UNH Student Gathering Raises Coronavirus Concerns

Students gathering in an apparent large group emerged after the university unveiled procedures for reporting coronavirus policy violations

The New Hampshire

Images of a large group of students gathered around a bonfire at the University of New Hampshire are raising eyebrows over the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Students appear to be grouped closely together in photos of an ice cream social organized by university staff for freshman moving to campus this week.

School spokeswoman Erika Mantz said the people at the event were in "acceptable physically distanced small groups broken down by residence hall floors." However, she added that as the event broke up, smaller groups gathered, "resulting in the photos depicting an inappropriate-sized gathering."

The gathering took place outside of first-year dorms Williamson and Christensen, according to the University's newspaper The New Hampshire, and dispersed after people complained about the lack of social distancing.

Mantz noted that the "vast majority" of students were wearing masks, but said the University staff will make sure future social events meet coronavirus safety standards "from beginning to end."

Vice Provost Kenneth Holmes sent an email out to campus Wednesday encouraging people to report coronavirus-related incidents and urging them to take precautions like mask-wearing and social distancing.

The email references an Aug. 24 off-campus party where people were not complying with coronavirus policies and three students were arrested for under-aged drinking.

"It is reckless behavior such as this that will necessitate UNH pivoting back to remote learning only. In the end, you and your peers will have the final say if we stay together or not," Holmes wrote. "While enforcement is essential, establishing a culture of safety is imperative. The more we can do in our small way to build that culture, the better off we will be."

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