Did SWOSU students attend COVID positive parties?
By Gena Hardy
For The Southwestern
It has been rumored that SWOSO students have hosted COVID “positive” parties, ignoring the dangers of the virus that has rapidly spread across the state. However, the university’s dean of students has said no such activities have reached his office.
“I know there was quite a few at one time, but I think they have died down now,” said one SWOSU student.
During a COVID positive party, people are encouraged to not wear masks and to show up, even if (or because), they have tested positive for COVID-19.
SWOSU students have claimed to know about the parties and students who attended, but no one has verified attending a COVID “positive” party themselves. Some students thought it was a joke, but said they later learned that they were “real and happening.”
“I know these parties are real and happening in town. At first I thought it was a joke, but nope, they happened,” a SWOSU senior said.
Students also claimed that the individuals responsible for the COVID “positive” parties were caught and disciplined.
“I know who held the party, but I am not going to name names. However, I will tell you that several were threatened to be kicked out of school and are on probation until December,” a SWOSU student said.
Dean of Students Joshua Engle said, “I won’t disclose information regarding a student’s conduct record, but please know the university does respond to incidents that are in violation of our code of conduct and university policies.
“This is especially true when other students are put at risk,” he said. “I have a responsibility to protect campus, and I take that responsibility serious. This sometimes means that I take action to help students understand the impact of their decisions by assigning sanctions.”
Engle said that he is not aware of “COVID Positive” parties, but wanted students to recognize the health risk of having large gatherings off-campus without proper precautions, encouraging all students who know about these off-campus gatherings to recognize the heightened risk they create.
“I want to remind students that their friends, parents, grandparents, church friends, and colleagues may all be exposed if they attend these gatherings. Responding to COVID-19 is not only a precaution for ourselves, but I know SWOSU students care about their families and friends,” Engle said.
With a final warning, Engle said, “The Health Department and CDC have explained that it may take up to five to seven days for any symptoms to appear, if they appear at all. That means that students who are not recognizing the importance of social distancing may be inadvertently exposing others.”
Other campuses across the country have had similar issues. According to USA Today, Alabama college students are going to 'COVID parties' to see who gets sick first. In the article, Tuscaloosa City Councilor Sonya McKinstry told ABC News that students have been organizing "COVID parties" at which they intentionally infect each other.
"They put money in a pot and they try to get COVID. Whoever gets COVID first gets the pot. It makes no sense," McKinstry told the network. "They're intentionally doing it."
Alabama is not the only college with issues. According to an article in The College Post, Northeastern University dismissed 11 first-year students after they were discovered together violating health protocols during parties.
New York University suspended more than 20 students for failure to comply with safety measures and Ohio State University suspended 228 students before the semester began after they were found partying in large numbers.
Cornell University, West Virginia University, and others have suspended students as well.