I’m shocked that my friends had a drinking party without masks

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female college student in my 20s. Recently, I had a shocking experience.

There was a practical training program that involved staying overnight somewhere. At the instruction of the university, to join the program we had to take measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, including taking an antibody test.

However, many of my school friends had a drinking party after activities ended for the day and they didn’t wear masks. I stayed in my room. After the party, one of my friends who attended the gathering said: “There was no problem going to the party because we tested negative on the antibody test. Such parties happen often.”

Since the first state of emergency was declared, I have never spoken to anyone without wearing a mask except for my parents and a few others whom I trust. I’m afraid of getting infected or infecting others around me. I was shocked at the difference in values between me and my school friends.

I don’t want to participate in a training program with people who disregard infection control measures. And, I don’t want to be lumped in with such people as “the young.” This situation has left me feeling like all my efforts have been wasted.

—U, Tokyo

Dear Ms. U:

I’m writing this response as your words of not wanting “to be lumped in with such people as ‘the young’” caught my eye.

Tokyo is now under its fourth state of emergency, but an unexpected surge in the number of infection cases is shaking the entire nation. There are concerns about the high percentage of cases among the younger generation, in addition to the raging delta variant.

However, not only the younger generation but also middle-aged and older people lack consideration for others by having fun at drinking parties without wearing masks. They are doing so probably because they have grown weary of exercising self-restraint or don’t think the situation is serious. This is not a problem that can be discussed as a matter of generational differences. The awareness of each individual has been called into question.

It’s valuable that you have voiced your concern in this column. Your message will show people that there are young people who are seriously concerned about the pandemic and working hard to prevent infections.

If possible, I would like you to tell the university exactly what happened at the training program. You may remain anonymous if you wish. Doing so is not blowing the whistle on your fellow students. Instead, you are protecting them. The university has the responsibility of conducting such programs knowing this type of situation may occur. It has an obligation to be aware of the facts, too.

It takes courage to stand up for what you think is right, but please trust your own judgment and sensitivity to think that it is wrong to commit a heartless act.

—Masami Ohinata, university president