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UVA students point fingers at fraternities as cause of spike in COVID-19 cases

Students believe actions of fraternities from January 31 and during events played a big part.
Courtesy WVIR
Courtesy WVIR(Courtesy WVIR)
Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 6:07 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - On Wednesday, the University of Virginia’s COVID-19 Tracker showed 229 new cases among students, displaying a growing trend of positive cases that started earlier this month. In response to the spike in cases, the university is taking action by limiting nearly all in-person activities beyond going to class or grabbing a meal.

Now, many students are speaking out, saying the spike in positive cases can be attributed to the actions of fraternities from January 31 and during rush events.

“I want to say that I’m disappointed, I want to say that I’m surprised, I want to say that I’m shocked. But I’m not at all, like not even in the slightest,” said Grace Gyamfi, a fourth-year UVA student.

During the fall, Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) suspended all forms of in-person organization. This semester, IFC revised its policy to mirror university guidelines, which restrict social gathering sizes and include mask mandates.

However, reports on Reddit from students suggest fraternities have not followed those guidelines.

“If you go on the IFC page, you see the guidelines and all the things we want to do. When you go on Twitter, Twitter is not in agreement. We have receipts. We have receipts. You’re liars,” Gyamfi said.

Ariana Gueranmayeh, a third-year student, took this picture on January 31.

Courtesy Ariana Gueranmayeh
Courtesy Ariana Gueranmayeh(Ariana Gueranmayeh)

“My boyfriend (the only person besides my roommates who I see without a mask) and I were on a masked walk and as we passed Mad Bowl, we were astonished at the sight of about a hundred students shoulder to shoulder; playing beer pong without a mask in sight,” Gueranmayeh said. “We may have been astonished, but not surprised because time and time again the UVA administration has turned a blind eye to the real damage their presence in the UVA and Charlottesville communities does.”

Videos from @barstooluva and @uvachicks on Instagram paint a similar scene.

A UVA student who wished to remain anonymous told WVIR: “For the past 2 weeks, fraternities were permitted by the IFC to hold in-person events for their rush. I personally know that during those 2 weeks, fraternity chapters were gathering in restaurants, bars, and their own frat houses. Meanwhile, sororities were mandated to hold their rush entirely online which they all complied with.”

Brian Coy, a spokesperson for the university, said in an email statement to WVIR: “There is no evidence to suggest that the rise in cases we are seeing is explicitly linked to any single group or part of our community. Transmission is widespread, as is noncompliance.”

Several students who spoke with WVIR said they wanted the university to speak out against any violation of guidelines by the IFC.

One, who wished to remain anonymous, told WVIR in an interview: “I would have a lot more sympathy for UVA if they had just said, ‘Hey, FYI, we’re not OK with you guys doing that and if you do it, that’s going to be a problem,’ because then at least they’re saying something about it.”

Coy said that the university will respond to all credible reports of violation of health and safety protocols.

“When the Dean’s Office receives a report containing specific information about a possible policy violation, it is assigned for investigation and disciplinary action is taken if warranted by the specific evidence discovered. An immediate interim suspension can be imposed pending a hearing in the most egregious cases, and has been utilized this year,” Coy said.

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