WVU suspends 29 students for COVID-19-related violations, additional sanctions pending

Twenty-nine West Virginia University students are being placed on immediate interim suspension amid ongoing COVID-19-related investigations. Additional sanctions are pending as investigations continue.

The latest actions follow more reports to the University and social media posts showing large parties Friday and Saturday nights (Sept. 4-5) at fraternities not recognized by WVU.

A member of the Theta Chi fraternity who tested positive for COVID-19 and had been notified to isolate attended a party at the fraternity house on Friday. Furthermore, the University had previously notified all residents of the fraternity living in the house that they must isolate or quarantine due to positive cases and close contacts. As a result, 29 members of Theta Chi fraternity have been charged with failure to comply with isolation or quarantine orders.

The students received notification letters today (Sept. 6). They are banned from campus and cannot take classes, including those offered online.

“Immediate interim suspensions are used when we determine a student presents a safety risk to campus,” Dean of Students Corey Farris said. “We know that these parties act as super spreaders. Their flagrant disregard for the health and safety of their classmates, our campus and the entire Morgantown community will not be tolerated.” 

Another investigation is underway of several photos and videos from a large party hosted by Alpha Sigma Phi, also not recognized by WVU.

“While we are aware that some students have made the wrong decision to attend house parties off-campus, we also know the majority have occurred at unaffiliated fraternity houses,” Farris said. “This should serve as a message to anyone else who thinks the rules don’t apply to them. They do, and we will hold you accountable.”

The University continues to work aggressively to identify others attending these large gatherings and will respond swiftly to bring charges against those found violating the Student Code of Conduct. WVU is also working with local officials to see what other measures can be implemented for those not following the rules.

“I understand our community’s frustrations,” Farris said. “The University is frustrated, too. We clearly communicated prior to returning to campus the health and safety protocols that must be followed in order to have on-campus learning. While we can better influence and monitor behavior on campus, it is our expectation that our students off-campus would follow the guidelines put in place to protect the city of Morgantown, which also includes wearing masks, not gathering in large crowds and following instructions to isolate or quarantine after exposure. 

“No matter where they are, if a student cannot abide by the health protocols put in place for their safety and the safety of the community during a global pandemic, we do not want them here,” Farris added. 

Farris noted the majority of students are doing the right things but unfortunately, as always, it is the actions of the few that will determine the path forward for the collective community. 

To report individuals not following COVID-19 guidelines, visit go.wvu.edu/reportcovidviolations. Reports may also be made by calling University Police at 304-293-COPS or submitted anonymously through the LiveSafe app

WVU announced Sept. 3 additional sanctions being imposed for COVID-19-related violations following a letter from President Gordon Gee the day before to those students not following safety protocols in off-campus gatherings. The University levied initial sanctions late last month. 

Update: WVU has now canceled in-person classes through Sept. 25. Read more here.

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