Days before classes begin, UNC Greek life is already breaking the rules as evidenced by a video that showed two dozen sorority girls heading off to a party without face masks.
The women are seen exiting a house near UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus in a video shared to Twitter Tuesday night. None are wearing face masks and they are all standing side-by-side.
UNC administrators had previously assured the community its fraternities and sororities would be adhering to social distancings and other community guidelines due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Clearly, though some aren’t taking the rules seriously.
The video, which has now been removed from Twitter, was taken around 10 p.m. Tuesday night. A report was filed by the Chapel Hill Police Department at the same time and day, citing the incident as a noise complaint but writing that it was a gathering of over 10 people in the description of the event. The report did not list any drug or alcohol use, and the case’s status was labeled “inactive.”
Several current UNC-Chapel Hill students, including the owners of the Instagram account @abolishuncifcandpanhel, have said that the tenants of the house are members of Chi Omega, one of UNC’s first sororities. The house, which has no actual affiliation with the organization, was pictured in a photo on the sorority’s Instagram account. The photo featured the front door of the house, where the numbers and their font match up with the numbers of the house that the women were leaving from. The post has since been deleted by the sorority, and their Instagram account has been set to private.
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It’s not just Frat parties that are at risk of endangering UNC — it’s also sororities hosting secret, non-socially distant events. Abolish Panhel, and shame on these people. In addition, we will only edit the contents of this post if any concrete evidence is brought forth that @chiomegaunc was not associated with this event. Video Source: Kush Vij
UNC’s sororities are known to pass houses down to younger members of the organization. While these houses are not qualified as “sorority housing,” the groups will meet at these homes for “pre-games,” small parties held before larger events. Chi Omega was likely holding a “dirty rush” event, where members of the organization invite potential new members to parties outside of formal recruitment.
In a regular year, the event could lead to consequences from the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, as well as the national chapter of Chi Omega. However, the video shows the violation of the university’s “Community Standards,” which had to be agreed on as a condition of enrollment in the 2020 fall semester. The video also violates phase 2 of Roy Cooper’s reopening plan, which says that no more than 10 people indoors and no more than 25 at an outdoor gathering.
The university’s community standards say students are expected to practice social distancing and wear masks, and follow the county’s stay-at-home order as well. Students were required to sign an agreement to the community standards by July 27, as a condition of their enrollment.
Chi Omega at UNC did not respond to request for comment, nor did they confirm or deny that they were involved in the party shown in the video.
Greek life and off-campus parties have been sources of concern in the weeks leading up to UNC-Chapel Hill’s first day of class on August 10. The university announced its plan to monitor Greek life on July 23, saying that they would be partnering with the Orange County Health Department. However, there have not been clear guidelines on how the organizations will be punished. On Wednesday, administration told the Faculty Executive Committee that all but two organizations had created written plans with the health department.
Vice-Chancellor Robert Blouin told members of the Chapel Hill Town Council in a July 29 meeting that there are other routes the university could take to punish Greek organizations that do not abide by community standards, but said that they were severe. It is assumed that these “severe” punishments would mean disbanding chapters that are found in mass violation of community standards.
In a June interview with NC Policy Watch, Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity’s former “house mom” says she was told by members that they would not adhere to social distancing policies. When she voiced her concern, she says she was called a “boomer” and a “bitch.” Since her interview, a survey found that almost 30 percent of UNC students would continue going to large gatherings.
The university’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life did not directly return the INDY’s request for comment; neither did UNC Panhellenic. The OFSL website says that any organization that doesn’t comply with the Orange County Health Department could lose university recognition, as well as access to the house.
“We are disappointed with the reports we have received regarding this event and will follow up, as we do with all reports that indicate our community expectations may not have been met,” says Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Amy Johnson. The office oversees the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
On Wednesday, multiple outlets reported that a letter was sent from Orange County Health Director Quintana Stewart detailing recommendations for UNC-Chapel Hill; the letter was sent July 29. Recommendations include restricting residence halls to “at-risk students with no access to equitable educational resources and those with true housing needs,” as well as completely-virtual education for the first five weeks of the semester.
Wednesday was also the first day faculty were made aware of the recommendations. Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz apologized if anyone felt “blindsided” in an emergency Faculty Executive Committee meeting. Blouin added that he and Guskiewicz were surprised by the letter, saying that he felt the meetings with the health department had been “positive” until then.
When asked about the video circulating Twitter, Guskiewicz told the committee that there was “a team looking into that.”
UNC’s coronavirus dashboard says 8.6% of COVID-19 tests that took place last week were positive. Students began moving on-campus Monday.
The university’s media relations team responded to inquiries about the video via email Thursday morning.They say someone from the Office of Student Affairs and the Chapel Hill Police Department will visit the house for contact tracing. The university can’t comment on if/how the students will be disciplined.
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