Party fowl

Signs on the University of Delaware campus remind students to abide by the city’s strict limits on private gatherings.

The University of Delaware is cracking down on students who violate the city of Newark's social gathering ordinance, implementing immediate suspensions for any student charged with hosting a large party.

UD officials announced the stricter consequences in a letter to students Thursday, the same day the university reported 34 new cases of COVID-19, its biggest one-day increase. After announcing six more cases Friday, UD is up to 180 cases since the semester began.

“We are making these changes for one simple reason: It is absolutely essential that we do everything possible to slow the spread of COVID-19 at UD and throughout our extended community,” Vice President of Student Life José-Luis Riera and Dean of Students Adam Cantley wrote in the joint letter.

Under the city's law passed in late August, indoor gatherings are limited to 12 people and outdoor gatherings are limited to 20 people, unless the host obtains a permit from the city. Anyone convicted of hosting or attending a party in violation of the law can be fined $500 by the city, and if they are students, they are referred to the university's office of student conduct for additional sanctions.

Under the stricter guidelines UD announced this week, any student charged with hosting a party that violates the law will immediately receive a temporary suspension until the case is adjudicated. Those found guilty through the university judicial system will receive a full suspension and could be expelled.

A temporary or full suspension means the student is banned from campus and prohibited from taking part in online classes.

Any student found guilty of attending a large party will also face UD sanctions, likely a deferred suspension, which is essentially probation, UD spokeswoman Andrea Boyle Tippett said.

However, the university does have an amnesty protocol, through which students who test positive or report a positive test will not be punished.

Since the semester began, Newark Police have busted four parties that violated the gathering ordinance, resulting in 30 students facing university sanctions.

Meanwhile, other students who have not complied with contact tracing, residence hall regulations or testing requirements were also referred to the office of student conduct. While many students later complied with these requirements, others received sanctions.

In addition, UD has informed Newark Police about addresses where additional “troubling behavior” has occurred.

“We want to sincerely thank everyone who has been making responsible choices, even when it’s difficult,” Riera and Cantley wrote in the letter to students. “Despite the positive behavior of most students, however, the actions of a few may be jeopardizing the health and safety of our entire community. Some students have continued gathering in large groups, not wearing face coverings and not keeping a safe physical distance from others.”

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