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Ball State suspends in-person social events by student groups

MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) — Ball State University on Tuesday suspended all in-person, off-campus social events by student organizations after reports of large weekend activities without masks or social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, a vice president said in a message to students.

Ro-Anne Royer Engle, the vice president of the division of student affairs, wrote in the message, “We are currently investigating reports of large social gatherings with no physical distancing or face masks. All reports received by the University are being investigated. Swift consequences will follow for students and student organizations found responsible for violations of our Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities.”

The suspension of social events included but was not limited to fraternity houses or “any location that can be reasonably associated with a student organization,” the message said.

Royer Engle encouraged people who attended the weekend events to get tested for the coronavirus. If tested an an off-campus site, students must report a positive result to the university so it can begin contact tracing, the message said.

Full message from the university

“I write to remind all students of our commitment to hold members of our campus community accountable to Ball State University’s standards of conduct.

“This past weekend, some students made poor personal choices and engaged in behaviors that are not consistent with the health and safety mitigation protocols our University has in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“We are currently investigating reports of large social gatherings with no physical distancing or face masks. All reports received by the University are being investigated. Swift consequences will follow for students and student organizations found responsible for violations of our Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities.

“To curtail similar behavior in the future, effective immediately and until further notice, student organizations are not permitted and will no longer be approved to host in-person social events at any location off-campus. Off-campus locations include, but are not limited to, fraternity houses or any location that can be reasonably associated with a student organization. In-person social events hosted on campus may be considered for approval but must be submitted using the event management form. The Office of Student Life will begin an immediate review of prior off-campus social event approvals for student organizations currently under investigation for reported violations of the Student Code.

“I understand the desire for social engagement. I believe in the importance of these opportunities to a student’s holistic development. But, it must be done in a responsible manner that reflects the realities of a global pandemic.

“If you or someone you know made high-risk choices this past weekend, I implore you to get tested for COVID-19 promptly. Students can get tested even without COVID-19 symptoms. The University’s website has information on how to get tested. If you test positive, you must isolate immediately. If you get tested at an off-campus testing site, report your positive test to the University to begin contact tracing.

“As we begin week nine of our Spring 2021 Semester, I am encouraged by the commitment of the vast majority of our students who persist despite the challenges presented by COVID-19. We are grateful to you for choosing to wear a face mask, remaining physically distant (6 feet) from those who do not live in your household, avoiding crowds and large gatherings, and regularly washing your hands.

“The increased availability of vaccine is a critical step to being able to do the social things we love. The actions of a few students this past weekend risks reversing the progress we have made.

“Make the choice to be a Cardinal who cares for yourself and others.”

Ro-Anne Royer Engle, vice president of the division of student affairs

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