Students at the University of Virginia expressed concerns online this past weekend about parties and events in the area surrounding grounds, likely foreshadowing what will be an important issue this fall when thousands of students return to grounds for in-person courses.
The parties held this past weekend were part of a tradition known as “Midsummers,” an unofficial event that falls about halfway through the summer in which students return to grounds for a few days to see friends.
The COVID-19 pandemic greatly diminished the number of students who came to Charlottesville this year, but some parties still occurred in the 14th street and Rugby Road areas.
Many of the bars on University Avenue were also reportedly crowded on Friday and Saturday night.
Videos and pictures of students partying circulated on Twitter and Instagram, where they were met with backlash by students and community members who called the events irresponsible.
UVA students packed into crowded bars on the corner is the best example of the ignorance of the UVA bubble. People are dying because people aren't social distancing and you're squeezed against 100 other people trying to get a wahoo. Wake up.
— Ellie Brasacchio (@ebrasac) July 11, 2020
The backlash was mostly due to a perceived lack of health guidelines at these events, although many students also said the events should not have happened in the first place.
Virginia currently prohibits events of more than 250 people, and the CDC currently recommends event-goers maintain six feet distance from other attendees and that all participants wear a face covering to avoid spread of the virus.
On Sunday, an anonymous Twitter account run by a UVA student started a thread of “uva students who are attending midsummer festivities, and thus recklessly endangering those around them.”
The thread did not gain much traction, but was circulated among many UVA students.
The events also raised concerns about how to prevent students from hosting parties or going to bars in the fall, once all students have returned to grounds.
Ian Solomon, Dean of the Batten School, tweeted Saturday “C’mon Wahoos, we are better than this. Let’s take the precautions that show we care for each other and our community. Otherwise we contribute to more suffering and death. #InThisTogether”
Other students and community members expressed their concerns online as well:
Lmao is it midsummers @UVA? Because someone might want to go check out all the maskfree parties on 14th st and ask yourselves how confident you feel about that “responsible student behavior” his fall. ?
— Scott (@swcville) July 10, 2020
uva students be like ‘we’re the best and brightest’ then go to bars, house parties, and restaurants during a panademic…
— lia ? (@youngmoneymalia) July 12, 2020
Many people were particularly concerned about fraternities and sororities acting irresponsibly by throwing parties, and that the problem may get worse in the fall.
UVA told the Washington Post that they are already having discussions with Greek student leaders about their role in minimizing community spread of the virus, but it is unclear how strictly those guidelines will be enforced.
perhaps uva should make an announcement of ceasing greek life rn……….. maybe that would help…….
— emmy (@pokemonaghan) July 12, 2020