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Penn State: ‘Do The Right Thing’ And Stop Partying

Penn State published a joint letter with the State College Borough Thursday discouraging large-scale apartment parties and gatherings that put the community at risk for coronavirus exposure.

Vice President of Student Affairs Damon Sims, alongside Borough Manager Tom Fountaine, said last weekend’s notorious parties could derail what’s been a generally successful semester so far. Curbing large gatherings becomes even more important as the university plans to send on-campus students home in just three weeks.

“For us to get to November 20 as planned requires continued effort,” the two wrote. “We are writing to ask you to do the right thing.”

They added Penn State’s Halloween showdown with Ohio State presents an opportunity to threaten the community’s success in fighting the coronavirus, the university’s current in-person learning, and students’ plans to travel home in November.

Sims and Fountaine implored students to continue wearing masks when out and about, social distance when possible, and avoid large gatherings as often as they can.

“In short, if you are going to continue in-person at University Park and safely leave campus or town on November 20 and return next semester, you must avoid those behaviors that have always been most problematic in the midst of this growing pandemic,” they wrote.

The duo’s letter to the community comes as both Penn State and State College police continue a follow-up investigation into the large-scale parties seen surrounding the Nittany Lions’ season opener against Indiana. Police said they’ll use video recordings to assist in identifying those involved “with the intent of issuing citations for the violation(s),” potential $300 fines, and sanctions for Penn State students.

On Thursday, the State College Police Department began asking for the community’s help in identifying 60 individuals who attended large apartment parties. According to their report, officers found the reported gatherings each consisted of more than 100 people.

The parties also violated local and state orders, including State College’s coronavirus mitigation ordinance.

“We take the virus’s threat to your health and wellbeing and the threat to the broader community very seriously, and we will not tolerate the refusal by others to do so,” they wrote.

Both officials reiterated violations of the borough’s mitigation measures could cause widespread harm throughout the community.

“The continued success of our return to in-person experiences hangs in the balance, and lives may depend on it,” Sims and Fountaine said. “Please think about these concerns as we go into the weekend and through the days to come. Your continued responsible and vigilant action will be deeply appreciated.”

Some apartment complexes have already taken steps to address Saturday’s reported gatherings. Penn Tower closed its outdoor deck until further notice due to “irresponsible behavior of several hundred persons,” while The Rise said its management will meet with local and university officials to create plans to address parties in the future.

Saturday’s reported gatherings came just one day after Pennsylvania recorded 2,219 new coronavirus cases, a record single-day high for the commonwealth at the time. Centre County reported 81 new cases over the weekend, bringing its total to 4,070 since the first case was confirmed in March.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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