Simon Peter Alciere: UMass to bring ‘disaster’ on Amherst

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The Gazette and Bulletin has done an admirable job of covering both the health effects and the economic problems caused by COVID-19. Hospitals have been burdened. People sick and dying. Reporters are also covering the news of thousands of businesses closing down, many of which may never reopen. Record unemployment rates.

Soon, you’ll probably be reporting on the flood of defaulted mortgages, skipped rent payments and rising homelessness. The good news, of course, is that, regardless of economic and personal hardship, everybody in the Valley has been cooperating with health officials, in order to save lives. Until now.

The largest business in the Valley is about to bring disaster upon all of us. The University of Massachusetts, regarded as one of the nation’s preeminent party schools, is about to bring thousands of people from all over the world, back to the little town of Amherst. The students will have no choice but to share living spaces in dorms and off-campus housing. They will take buses to classrooms, greenhouses and laboratories.

There are loud parties now, in the summer. How many will there be in September? Will Blarney Blowout be socially distanced this year? Obviously, many will die due to the university’s reckless “super-spreader” decision. Many will be the university’s own faculty, staff and students, but the host community will also have people who get sick and die.

And the reason given? The university has budget problems! Restaurant owners can lose their business, their savings, and possibly their homes, but their budgets are not as important as the university’s. We little people have to follow the rules, and we’re willing to sacrifice to save lives. It will all be for nothing.

Simon Peter Alciere