Student Council voted to pass SR21-09, A Resolution Denouncing The University’s Negligence Regarding IFC and ISC Violations of COVID-19 Restrictions for Recruitment Events, Tuesday. Twenty-three representatives voted in favor of the legislation and two abstained.
The resolution was sponsored by second-year College student representative Gabriela Hernandez, third-year College student representative Ryan Alcorn, second-year College student representative Zyahna Bryant and Abel Liu, chair of the representative body and third-year College student.
SR21-09 calls on the University administration to issue a written apology that recognizes “their failure to enforce their own COVID-19 restrictions.” The resolution asks all fraternities and sororities to comply with the University Judiciary Committee’s ongoing investigation and encourages the University to take action against Greek organizations under investigation.
“The Student Council Representative Body calls on the Office of the Dean of Students … to exercise its power of temporary suspension and interpret any apparent violation of the University’s SEC-045 policy as an egregious violation,” the resolution read.
The resolution’s passage comes after the Inter-Fraternity Council and Inter-Sorority Council reversed its ban on in-person events, which permitted chapters to hold in-person gatherings during the recruitment period so long as they complied with the University’s six-person limit. The IFC allowed chapters to hold in-person recruitment events for every round after open houses while the ISC only permitted chapters to hold in-person events on bid day.
During a virtual town hall on Friday, Dean of Students Allen Groves announced that the University had brought cases against five fraternities and several individual students for COVID-19 violations this school year. Additionally, photo evidence obtained by The Cavalier Daily showed Pi Kappa Phi fraternity and Kappa Alpha Theta sorority violating the University’s universal mask mandate, social distancing guidelines and six-person gathering limits. Six fraternities and two sororities are under investigation by The Cavalier Daily for alleged violations of COVID-19 guidelines during the first two weeks of school.
Following recruitment and other in-person events during the first two weeks of school, the University saw two record-breaking highs — 121 new COVID-19 cases on Feb. 15 and 229 new cases on Feb. 16. An additional 252 new cases were reported over the weekend, and the positivity rate also increased from 1.70 on Feb. 15 to a high of 4.07 Sunday.
At a town hall Friday, University President Jim Ryan said that while it may have played a role, there is no evidence that Greek life recruitment is the primary reason for the spike in cases. The University previously sent an email last week saying that Greek life played no role in the increase.
Hernandez emphasized that the resolution aims to protect members of the University community while cases are at an all-time high.
“This resolution comes from a place of major concern for the health and well-being of students, staff and members of the Charlottesville community,” Hernandez said. “Many students were quick to point out that the rise of COVID-19 cases were most likely due to in-person recruitment events held by some IFC member organizations and in-person events.”
In an email statement to The Cavalier Daily, Alcorn said he hopes SR21-09 will hold both the University and Greek life accountable for violating COVID-19 guidelines.
“I sponsored this legislation for two reasons — one, because the University administration has failed to appropriately take accountability for its inability to protect the University community and Charlottesville residents from predictable superspreader events, and two, to ensure that noncompliant Greek organizations will not continue to breach COVID-19 University guidelines,” Alcorn said.