EDITORIAL: Aggieville should put public health first, cancel Fake Patty’s Day

Citizens from Manhattan and surrounding areas come to Aggieville to celebrate Fake Patty's Day with their family and friends. (Archive Photo by Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State cancelled in-person classes until further notice, and the university has instructed students to stay in their hometowns if they can. Some students, however, will return to Manhattan in a week to participate in the annual Fake Patty’s Day celebration in Aggieville. Other students, from other colleges and universities, will also flock to Manhattan to celebrate.

So far, Aggieville leadership has indicated that Fake Patty’s Day will go on as scheduled in Manhattan, despite growing concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kansas. There are now six confirmed cases split between the Kansas City metro area and Wichita, one of which resulted in the death of a Wyandotte County man on Wednesday. Kansas is now under a state of emergency.

We understand that Fake Patty’s Day is a vital part of the culture in Manhattan, but this virus is something to take seriously. The primary Fake Patty’s Day goers are not likely to be classified as high-risk individuals if they do contract the virus, but stopping the spread of COVID-19 is not just about individual patients — it’s an issue of public health. Saying “It doesn’t matter, it won’t kill me” is both ignorant and selfish.

Without a vaccine or cure, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that practicing social distancing is one of the best ways to prevent the total number of infections from becoming unmanageable for health care providers and community infrastructure.

Crowding into bars is probably one of the worst things you can do when preventing the spread of a pandemic — short of maybe licking hand railings in public places and not washing your hands.

“It’s important to live your lives, but it’s also important to take basic precautions like exercising good hygiene practices. It is up to each of us to do our part,” Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman said.

If it’s up to all of us to do our part, Aggieville’s part is to put its foot down and cancel Fake Patty’s Day. Canceling the event likely won’t stop students and community members from hosting house parties, but it will help.

As social events around the country are cancelled and postponed to promote the practice of social distancing and prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Aggieville should take notes and cancel Fake Patty’s Day. No tradition, however fun and however profitable, should be valued over the health and safety of Manhattan residents.