Students reminded all off-campus social activities must be suspended

March 25, 2020

This story was updated on March 30 to provide clarification that Student Affairs has issued a moratorium on all social gatherings that are organized, sponsored or endorsed by a recognized student organization, including fraternities and sororities.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — While the majority of University Park students who have off-campus housing are no longer living in the State College area, those who are still living here while taking their classes remotely are reminded to maintain social distancing practices.

“We know this has been a difficult transition for everyone, and I want to thank our students who are practicing responsible social distancing in light of the global pandemic that has now hit close to home,” said Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs. “It is imperative for the health and safety of our entire community that everyone — including students — follow the social distancing practices immediately for their own safety and others.”

Recently, members of the State College community have expressed concerns about gatherings of students off campus. To clarify expectations and promote the health and welfare of all in our community, Student Affairs has issued a moratorium on all social gatherings that are organized, sponsored or endorsed by a recognized student organization, including fraternities and sororities.

This restriction follows earlier communications to fraternities and sororities as well as all other recognized student organizations, which outlined expectations for cancelling in-person events in the interest of the health and safety of our students and wider community.

This decision aligns with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Gov. Tom Wolf's "Stay at Home" order.

By disregarding the University restriction and moving forward with social events, large or small, individuals run the risk of potential exposure to novel coronavirus and compromising the health and safety of other members, families and the greater community. Any student organization that holds a gathering in contradiction to the University’s directive will be contacted by the Office of Student Conduct, which will respond appropriately. Individual students may also be held accountable by the office.

Any in-person event at this time can create conditions that may endanger others and negatively impact the community. This restriction includes activities and gatherings in fraternity and sorority houses, as well as apartments and other off-campus locations. 

The offices of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Fraternity and Sorority Compliance have been in contact with members, alumni advisers, housing corporations and the national organizations of any Greek organizations whose members are still living in State College during this remote learning period to establish clear safety guidelines and expectations. In addition, the Interfraternity Council communicated to all members of the community that social gatherings are strictly prohibited at this time and encouraged members to consider the impact of their actions on the larger community.

“We applaud the efforts of so many students and student organizations, including the fraternity and sorority community, to behave responsibly at this difficult time,” said Sims. “We believe fewer than 100 students are now living in fraternity chapter houses in State College, which is down from the nearly 2,800 residents typically found there. Continued vigilance in our Greek community and all our student organizations remains critically important as we do all we can, collectively, to stem the virus and protect those most vulnerable to its continuing assault upon our common welfare." 

Penn State leaders hosted a virtual town hall meeting March 24 to answer questions and provide information to students and families about the measures Penn State has taken to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and protect the health and well-being of students, faculty, staff and community members. Students can read more information and watch a recording of the town hall here: https://news.psu.edu/story/612924/2020/03/24/academics/penn-state-leaders-answer-student-questions-virtual-town-hall.

A recent report by the CDC shows that 20% of Americans who were sick enough to be hospitalized by the virus as of March 16 were 20-44 years old. This underscores the need for people of all ages to adhere to social distancing recommendations. Slowing transmission by social distancing will allow health officials to scale-up testing and treatment capacity to minimize the health impacts of this pandemic. As guidance from leading health organizations and the federal government continues to evolve, epidemiologist Matt Ferrari, associate professor of biology at Penn State, shares his expertise on some of our most frequently asked questions here: https://news.psu.edu/story/612392/2020/03/19/campus-life/social-distancing-tips-penn-state-expert.

The health and safety of our community is of the utmost importance, and we implore all to follow the latest prevention guidelines that have been published widely. According to the CDC, anyone who feels sick should seek medical advice by first calling ahead to your doctor or an emergency room. Medical professionals are in the best position to recommend whether further action is needed.

  • Students: University Health Services will only see patients with a scheduled appointment and will not be accepting walk-ins. Students experiencing upper respiratory infection or flu-like illness will need to call the UHS Advice Nurse line at 814-863-4463 prior to having an appointment scheduled. Students at Commonwealth Campuses should contact their on-campus health services office.

For the latest updates and information about Penn State’s response to the ongoing coronavirus situation, visit psu.edu/virusinfo.

Last Updated March 30, 2020