A week after maskless Iowa State University students were seen crammed into bars and off-campus parties, ISU President Wendy Wintersteen on Friday issued a campus letter rebuking the “unacceptable” behavior and enacting a new COVID-19 safety policy for student social gatherings that could lead to suspension.
Per the new policy, effective Friday, all on- or off-campus social gatherings or parties involving ISU students must comply with all public health orders in place at the federal, state, county, city and university level.
That means, under current restrictions, students at the parties or gatherings must wear face coverings, and comply with federal physical distancing guidelines ensuring 6 feet of separation.
“Because of the serious public health ramifications, the university will enforce this policy through the Student Code of Conduct,” according to Wintersteen. “Students will be held accountable for violating COVID-19 health and safety policies and standards, including the social gathering policy.”
Iowa State, which began classes Monday, identified 175 students with COVID-19 upon move in to the residence halls. They were required to isolate either in space reserved on campus or at home.
The university, like University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa, spent months and millions preparing to bring students back to campus for the fall semester — despite the increasing coronavirus cases and death toll.
In Wintersteen’s message Friday, she chided students who “engage in irresponsible behavior, including attending large gatherings or parties that violate physical distancing and face covering rules” and said they’ll be subject to university discipline — including suspension.
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“Last weekend the nation saw an example of this type of behavior by many of our students participating in large gatherings and parties,” she said. “This is unacceptable and must stop. It puts the health and safety of our campus and community at risk and it jeopardizes our ability to continue with an on-campus experience and in-person classes and activities as we have seen at other universities across the country.”
Several other institutions — like University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Notre Dame University — canceled classes following COVID-19 outbreaks and concerns.
“I remain hopeful that all of our students will act responsibly,” Wintersteen wrote. “Together, we must do everything we can to keep our campus and community healthy.”
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