I am really quite disgusted with that element of returning students and other people in general who believe that their parties and personal freedoms are more important than the lives and heath of other people. This callous selfish and childish disregard for the lives and safety of others is despicable. Pullman isn’t the only college town that is experiencing this phenomenon. These younguns want to be treated like adults, but their behavior is far short of qualifying as adult.

Pullman is more than just the college — we have industries, businesses, farmers, old people and families, many with children. We worked hard to keep the incidents of COVID-19 under control these past months so the college and local schools could qualify to reopen with classroom teaching only to have that record shattered by the bad behavior of so many returning students.

The health rules and the reasoning behind them are simple — easy to understand by anyone with average intelligence. The process has been explained ad-nauseam by all manner of news media, signage and word of mouth. What is so hard to understand? Where are their brains? They don’t seem ready for college to me.

Most of us looked forward to the return of students, both from the standpoint of the health of the local economy that has suffered badly these past months as well as life returning to something resembling normal. With the obedience to the simple rules, that could have happened.

It is all too easy to blame the example set by our fearless leader. We badly need a president who will lead, set a good example, and will supply the truth — not those zany notions that put him in what he thinks is his best light. We all should use our intelligence to discern and follow the truth and best policies. Failure to follow these policies only postpones the time when we can return to anything like normal. It is going to take months to finish development of a vaccine and produce enough to fully vaccinate everyone who needs it. Until that day, we are going to continue hearing of more deaths and cases of permanent damage to health. We also have to remember that the virus is rampant worldwide, and until we can stem the progress of the disease everywhere, it will continue to be an international threat. Travel will need to be limited or controlled for some years to come.

While we seem to have stamped out smallpox, it took a long time, and there is still no guarantee that it won’t come back somewhere. I envision the same will eventually apply to this coronavirus. Right now the U.S. leads the world in deaths, active cases and continued spread, when, instead, we should be the shining example of how to deal with the virus. Because of the ineptness of our handling of this disease, we have lost a lot of the worldwide respect we once enjoyed. It’s bad enough that the world believes we have a complete fool for a president; I hate to think how much worse that opinion would be if by some horrible chance we reelected him.

I plead with the student population who is acting irresponsibly to remember — the life and long-term health of people is at stake. Simple rules like wearing masks, hand washing, social distancing and limiting the size of gatherings aren’t all that hard to observe. It’s time to put on you big boy or girl pants and behave like adults.

Let’s see if WSU can’t be the example for other similar campuses across the nation. Students should judge themselves, not by how many big parties they can get away with, but how well they make good lives and have fun and something of a satisfying social life that stays within the rules. I issue them this challenge. I think in the long run, they would be happier with themselves and if they succeed, I and other Pullman residents would be very proud of them and grateful.

Lenna Harding lived her first 20 and past 43 years in Pullman. A longtime League of Women Voters member, she served on the Gladish Community and Cultural Center board. Reach her at lj1105harding@gmail.com.

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