UNH President Calls Fraternity Party ‘Reprehensible' After 11 Confirmed Coronavirus Cases

"Let me be clear: this is reckless behavior and the kind of behavior that undermines our planning and will lead to us switching to a fully remote mode,'' University of New Hampshire President James Dean said in a letter to the college community.

NBC Universal, Inc.

More than 10 cases of COVID-19 have been traced to a fraternity party where people did not follow public health guidelines, the president of the University of New Hampshire said.

University and state health officials said Sunday that 11 people have tested positive for the virus so far following an Aug. 29 party at the Theta Chi fraternity.

In a Sunday letter to the university community, UNH President James Dean said more than 100 students and non-students attended the "reprehensible" party at 5 Strafford Ave. in Durham.

"Let me be clear: this is reckless behavior and the kind of behavior that undermines our planning and will lead to us switching to a fully remote mode,'' Dean said in the letter.

The university was quick to announce action against the fraternity, with Dean saying student conduct charges will be pursued against the organizers of the party and all students who attended the event. The fraternity was also placed under interim suspension, and Dean banned any in-person gatherings of any size within the fraternity, or sorority system or other social groups.

Everyone inside the fraternity house is quarantining for 14 days after the party there brought out more than 100 people without masks. No one answered the door at the Theta Chi house when NBC10 Boston knocked on Monday.

“It’s a bad way to start our year,” freshman Taylor Jackman said.

“We definitely don’t want to see that on campus, but kids are kids,” freshman Mackenzie Connaughton added.

Students say having a party in the middle of a pandemic isn't exactly shocking.

"A lot of young kids are dumb, and it’s just kind of inevitable,” Jackman said.

Jackman and Connaughton, both UNH freshmen, worry that irresponsible students might ruin the semester for them.

“Me and my friend don’t want to get sent home, so we’re trying our best not to go out and do big things like that because we’re paying so much for an education that might not even happen,” Jackman said.

Meanwhile, the university says any student who attended the party should self-quarantine and contact the campus health and wellness center at 603-862-9355.

UNH officials say some of the students who tested positive for the virus attend other schools.

“I know they’re just trying to have fun, but during this pandemic you can’t really have that much fun,” freshman Kayla Gaudreau said.

Freshmen were dismissed from Northeastern University after violating coronavirus safety protocol by attending a party in a hotel room.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services said Sunday it is investigating a potential outbreak of the virus among people associated with the Theta Chi Fraternity and urged anyone who visited the fraternity since the end of August to self-observe for illness and seek testing due to potential exposure to the virus.

The novel coronavirus can present with a wide range of symptoms including fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of taste or smell.

Any person who develops new symptoms should stay home, limit their contact with others, immediately contact their healthcare provider and get tested for COVID-19. 

On Monday, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services announced 33 new cases. To date, there have been 7,476 cases and 433 deaths in the state.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

NBC10 Boston and the Associated Press
Contact Us