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Dartmouth quarantines 23 Tuck students after party in dorm

  • Usually bustling with students, the Dartmouth College campus is mostly empty on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, in Hanover, N.H.(Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/8/2020 7:26:18 PM
Modified: 9/9/2020 10:54:47 AM

HANOVER — At least 23 Tuck School of Business students are in quarantine after attending a party at a graduate school dormitory in an incident that Dartmouth College officials said was a “serious offense” against COVID-19 precautions.

Tuck Dean Matthew Slaughter sent an email to the Tuck community on Saturday saying Dartmouth Safety and Security officers were “summoned” to Whittemore Hall, a dorm for first-year Tuck students, and discovered a “social gathering of Tuck students in significant violation of multiple Dartmouth and Hanover public-health requirements” on the fourth floor.

Slaughter’s email made clear the gathering violated campus safety standards in the pandemic and reminded students that they are “obligated” to wear masks in all common spaces, social distance from other people, and “are not to gather in groups larger than nine people.”

Slaughter said the investigation will be “thorough and expeditious” and he added that the Friday night party “was a serious offense and threat to the well-being of our community. It will be handled accordingly.”

Dartmouth spokeswoman Diana Lawrence on Tuesday said via email that 23 students who were present have been ordered into quarantine “out of an abundance of caution.”

The first-year Tuck students began classes on Aug. 24, while second-year students started on Tuesday. Lawrence noted that the students involved had already completed COVID testing during their first week in Hanover as well as an initial 14-day quarantine.

But because of the gathering, they must go through an additional 14-day quarantine and additional testing, Lawrence said. Their presence at the party also will be reviewed by Dartmouth and Tuck as part of their conduct process to determine whether they would face disciplinary punishment, she said.

Meanwhile, Dartmouth confirmed on Tuesday that two undergraduates were sent home and can’t register for on-campus classes for the rest of the academic year after an incident that also involved three alumni at the Phi Delta Alpha fraternity on Saturday, Aug. 29.

“In light of possible multiple policy violations at its fraternity house, Phi Delta Alpha was immediately temporarily suspended until the situation has been reviewed through our Community Standards and Accountability process,” Lawrence said via email.

Because the fall term had not started, the students, who could face other discipline, could be eligible for full refunds. Students who were not involved in the incident and had been planning to live in the fraternity house will now be housed in Dartmouth dorms, she said.

The Tuck investigation comes as about about half of Dartmouth’s undergraduates began returning to campus this week for the Sept. 14 start of classes and as Dartmouth on Monday said 34 students and one faculty member are now in quarantine, including the 23 Tuck students.

Though no students or faculty out of 1,526 tested in Hanover so far have been found to have COVID-19, one student and one employee are also in isolation. Isolation is required for people who have COVID-19 symptoms and are awaiting test results or who have tested positive for the virus.

Four students out of 1,502 who have done “pre-arrival testing” have tested positive for COVID-19, Dartmouth said on its COVID-19 dashboard. Those four remain at home.

Dartmouth decided to bring about 2,300 students back to campus this fall amid intense scrutiny, and criticism, from community members and more than 150 professors who are concerned about COVID-19 spreading in the Upper Valley, where, thus far, it has been largely contained. Most classes will be taught online and not in-person, Dartmouth said.

Dartmouth students, including graduate students at Tuck, are under strict orders from college officials to abide by various safety precautions, including wearing masks in public, abiding by social distancing protocols and avoiding parties.

Hanover officials also have taken action, passing a mask ordinance and an emergency ordinance late last month that limits gatherings on or in residential properties to 10 or fewer people, not counting the residents themselves.

Hanover Town Manager Julia Griffin on Tuesday said Tuck sanctions will “come first” before the town decides to act.

“I was saddened to hear of this gathering, particularly involving older Tuck students who, we would hope, would be in a position to make mature adult decisions around COVID precautions and the Community Expectations Agreement they signed,” Griffin said via email.

The first COVID-19 case documented in New Hampshire occurred after a Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center employee who had recently traveled to Italy attended a party with Tuck School of Business students at The Engine Room in White River Junction in late February. About 100 people attended that event.

Schools across the country are now cracking down on social gatherings. Northeastern University last week said 11 first-year students had been “dismissed” after they were discovered together in a hotel room in Boston and are “no longer part of the Northeastern community for the fall semester,” though they can contest the action, the university said. Northeastern said it would not refund the students nearly $37,000 in tuition for the semester.

And the University of New Hampshire over the weekend said more than 100 people attended a fraternity party that has now been linked to more than 10 COVID-19 cases. UNH President James Dean said the party was “reprehensible” and that students would face conduct charges.

Back at Dartmouth, Dean of the College Kathryn Lively, who is seen as a main enforcer of the COVID-19 rules, also told undergraduates this week that various drinking games, most notably “Pong,” are now prohibited both on-campus or locally off-campus to “decrease the risk of the spread of COVID-19.” The game, which requires a player to chug a cup of beer if an opponent lands a ping pong ball into the cup, is a longstanding tradition on campus.

“These games promote the spreading of COVID-19 through lack of wearing face coverings, lack of physical distancing and the sharing of cups,” Lively said in an email to undergraduates on Monday.

Valley News staff writer John P. Gregg can be reached at jg regg@vnews.com.

Update

This story has been updated to reflect that about 90% of Dartmouth classes will be held online even as the college allows about 2,300 undergraduates back on campus.

 

 




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