Tufts health officials urge personal accountability amid increased social events

Tufts students put up Halloween decorations at their off-campus house on Teele Ave. Mengqi Irina Wang / The Tufts Daily
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Amid a general trend of increased in-person activities on campus and Greek life events as well as Halloween, one of the most party-filled weekends of the year for college students, Tufts officials emphasized the continued vigilance of COVID-19 policies in October.

University Infection Control Health Director Michael Jordan and Medical Director of Health Service Marie Caggiano encouraged students to use masks to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus and to make decisions with the community’s safety in mind.

“From a public health perspective, we encourage students to make wise personal choices and use sound judgment when deciding how to socialize,” Jordan and Caggiano wrote in an email to the Daily. “Wearing masks prevents the transmission and acquisition of SARS-CoV-2.”

Furthermore, as businesses, venues and social gatherings permit greater numbers of attendees, Caggiano and Jordan encouraged avoiding or limiting travel and attendance in these settings.

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“It is important to wear a mask at all times when indoors and to avoid or significantly limit attendance at indoor gatherings off-campus, such as parties, nightclubs, or bars,” Jordan and Caggiano said.

While social distancing guidelines are no longer in place, indoor masking and, at times, outdoor masking are still required.

Dean of Student Affairs Camille Lizarríbar reminded students of this in an email sent on Friday.

“All COVID policies must be followed over the Halloween weekend and during the rest of the semester,” she wrote.

Lizarríbar reminded students to wear a mask indoors, noting that costume masks are not protective face coverings. She also emphasized that large indoor parties or Halloween parties in nightclubs should be avoided.

Greek life leaders are trying to balance heeding this guidance with planning social events. 

“These are the regulations that we take very seriously in order to ensure our members, and others in our Tufts community, are safe,” Andie Stallman, a senior and co-president of the local sorority The Ivy, wrote in an email to the Daily.

Stallman also articulated that Tufts has been transparent in its guidelines for Greek life organizations to determine whether or not their events are permitted.

According to Stallman, Greek life organizations face a variety of consequences if they violate university regulations, and Greek life organizations are aware of these consequences as outlined in the Student Code of Conduct.

The regulations and consequences are clearly defined in the Student Code of Conduct and were shared with Greek Life presidents at the beginning of the semester,” Stallman said.

Emily Kunkle, associate director for leadership, academic engagement, and fraternity & sorority life, outlined the process for registering and scheduling a social event, as well as preliminary discussions around risk management.

“Each social event must be registered by 9 am on the Monday prior to the event,” Kunkle wrote in an email to the Daily. “Students then meet with an [Office of Residential Life & Learning] staff member to review their registration and discuss risk management strategies in order to receive final approval.”

She added that national fraternities and sororities have additional risk management policies.

Stallman expressed that while parties are expected to continue, social life still remains markedly different from pre-pandemic activities.

“We are working to ensure that social life continues as normally as possible while still adhering to the regulations set by the university,” Stallman said. “Therefore, you can expect parties to continue through the fall and winter months. However, they may look and feel different than they did pre-COVID.”

Stallman also acknowledged that COVID-19 policies are still subject to change.

“Of course, Tufts COVID regulations and social policies may change depending on the number of cases and severity of the pandemic which will impact the organization of Greek-Life social events,” Stallman said.

Ryen Delaney, co-president of Thalia, another local sorority, emphasized the agreement between policies for Greek life gatherings and policies for general student gatherings. Delaney also expressed a commitment to the safety of members at social gatherings.

“The guidelines for parties given to Greek Life are the same guidelines given to all students,” Delaney, a senior, wrote in an email to the Daily. The health and safety of our members is our top priority when planning any social gathering.”

Caggiano and Jordan ultimately want students to remember to consider the health and safety of the Tufts community.

“We remain in the midst of a pandemic, and students owe it to themselves and others in the community to stay as safe as possible at all times,” Jordan and Caggiano said.

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