Members of the Providence city council are speaking out against a celebratory parade for graduates that drew crowds to a local neighborhood on Saturday, violating the social distancing orders.
A spokesperson from Providence College told WJAR a group of parents organized the gathering that drew hundreds of students to the area. That sparked outrage among city council members.
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“After hearing from many neighbors, the community is upset and rightfully so,” said David Salvatore, Providence councilman of the 14th Ward.
The celebration is one of many gatherings students from Providence College have been attending, disregarding the rules put in place to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
Salvatore said he wishes students could have celebrated in a more thoughtful way.
“The disrespect that has been shown over the last several days I think is indicative of an overall culture on this street that the rules don’t necessarily apply them,” he said.
One anonymous student who attended the graduation celebration expressed his gratitude to the parents who planned the gathering for graduates.
“As much as it made people uncomfortable, that’s not what our intention was... it was a pretty amazing thing. It wasn’t closure, but it was something to end our time here in Providence,” said the student.
The student also said the celebration could have been a lot worse than it was.
Councilors Salvatore and Jo-Ann Ryan are calling for change before students return to school in the fall.
Ryan believes the college should take responsibility for its students.
“Take responsibility for the children and the students who are living off-campus. I think from a legislative perspective we can do a lot to request they put a mitigation plan,” Ryan said.
In the upcoming days there will be a council meeting to discuss new rules.
Police told WJAR there were no fines given out to those who attended the celebration. The people were cooperative when told to disperse.
In a statement, Steven Maurano, associate vice president of public affairs, government and community relations for Providence College, issued an apology on behalf of the school.
"A parent called the College earlier this week to ask about organizing the parade and we told her that the College could not be involved in the parade nor could we sanction it," Maurano said. "We asked her to contact Providence Police if this was something parents wanted to do. On behalf of the College, I apologize to the Elmhurst and Smith Hill communities for their behavior."