Opinions Editor discusses the events of St. Patrick’s Day on campus.
University of Dayton students gathered in the hundreds on Lowe’s street on March 20 to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day just as they have every year in recent memory.
This year, as we are all brutally aware, is not like every other year: the Covid-19 pandemic is still raging on.
The massive day-drink on Saturday, while unsurprising, was blatantly disrespectful to the Flyer community. Students were asked by professors, faculty and the administration to be mature and responsible for just a few more weeks to round out the semester.
The official warning came to students in an email sent by William Fischer, Vice President for Student Development, and Savalas Kidd, Executive Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police at UD.
The email outlined rules for hosting a safe and considerate celebration including limiting parties to 10 people within your household, complying with the campus-wide mask mandate and listening to public safety orders to disperse.
This warning went ignored by hundreds of students who went on to gather anyway. The university did not ask students to cease celebrating the coveted holiday on campus.
They simply asked that students help keep everyone safe by following a few rules. Unfortunately, it became obvious last week that there are Flyers here that either do not care about the well-being of their community or do not care about the consequences of their actions.
The university promised swift and serious punishment for anyone who went against the rules for St. Patrick’s Day.
“An outbreak of coronavirus threatens in-person classes and could prompt more stringent campus restrictions, eliminate the possibility of any on-campus graduation and potentially send everyone home before the end of the semester,” the email said.
From an outsider’s perspective, it seemed like the large street party went on for most of the day without much intervention from UD Public Safety. While it was reported that the gathering remained peaceful for the several hours that it occurred, it was in clear violation of the rules that UD said they would strictly enforce.
The administration has made an attempt to identify and punish some of the students who celebrated in the street on Saturday, but it is only a fraction of the total population involved. WHIO reported that 52 students have been referred for disciplinary action.
It is too early to say how last weekend’s events affected public health in Mongomery County. From what has been reported by the university, there are currently 10 active cases on campus, 7 more than before the celebration. UD is not classifying the slight rise as an outbreak on campus, but we all know how fast a few cases can become many.
The numbers reported by UD do not account for any students who have Covid-19 and have remained asymptomatic and therefore have not been tested. It also does not include any students who got tested off-campus and decided not to report a positive test result to the UD Health Center.
Because we do not know the potential spread caused by the day-drink just yet, it is likely that the UD administration is waiting to take the next steps. If the university is going to threaten students with severe consequences, I would expect them to follow through with them, especially when it was very unlikely that students would follow the rules.
It shocked me, however, to not hear from the university for days following the event. The first widespread indication that the administration had been aware of the situation was an email sent on March 24. This email alerted students that surveillance testing would be increasing on campus following the day-drink.
I hope that UD will hold with its stance to continue investigating the celebration because for the students not involved, there is so much to lose. It is an embarrassment for our university that we, as adults, cannot put others before ourselves. It is a privilege to attend this university and not a right, something that many Flyers do not understand.
The students blatantly disobeyed safety guidelines. The university failed to follow through with breaking up the parties and punishing students for their role in the St. Patrick’s Day celebration. UD failed to uphold its promise to the Dayton community.