IU students are still partying at similar rates to before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and most, if not all of them, have not been adhering to CDC and IU recommended health guidelines, IU Police Department Deputy Chief Shannon Bunger said.
Bunger said IUPD would receive two or three reports of partying per night on typical weekends before the pandemic, and this hasn’t changed this year. As per Monroe county guidelines, people should not be attending gatherings larger than 15 people. The CDC recommends individuals wear masks and social distance when possible. Bunger said that it still troubles him to see so many students blatantly disregard these guidelines.
“Most of the parties that we respond to are not wearing masks and not social distancing,” Bunger said.
Prior to the 2020 fall semester, students were required to sign a commitment form, agreeing to health rules and regulations outlined by IU. According to this form, students need to practice physical distancing at all times by staying six feet apart from others and always wearing a mask on campus when inside IU buildings as well as in outdoor public spaces where physical distancing is difficult to maintain.
These policies also apply to private indoor and outdoor areas, even off-campus. This form also addresses the consequences any violation of the agreement may lead to such as student disciplinary proceedings and sanctions. Students are even able to fill out a form reporting violations they observe on and off campus.
According to the Sanctions for Noncompliance with COVID-19 Health and Safety Directives page on IU’s University Policies website, students who fail to adhere to these rules risk interruption or termination to university systems and services: a hold on accounts, fines or fees. Students may even risk a temporary exclusion from on-campus class attendance and physical presence on campus with a required switch to all online classes.
“If it is a large gathering of 15 or more, no mask, no social distancing, we ask the residents of the house to shut the party down,” Bunger said. “Then the names of the residents are passed along to code of conduct if they are students for review and they determine any types of discipline.”
Even since the end of the statewide mask mandate on April 6, Monroe County has continued to uphold most of the health and safety requirements and recommendations. These regulations include a restriction from attending gatherings of more than 15 people, and require the continued use of masks and social distancing according to the City of Bloomington.
Sophomore Marcus Drolet said since his first semester living in a house northwest of campus, many of his surrounding neighbors have hosted parties almost every weekend for the past semester.
“There are a bunch of houses around me and just in the neighborhood that have parties regardless of the vaccines coming out,” Drolet said.
Drolet said he’s surprised more of these parties aren’t shut down since a lot of them are outside and can be heard from blocks away. Many of these parties even go well into the early morning with music continuing to play.
Even as IU’s traditional Little 500 race was postponed until late May, Bunger said IUPD is still expecting an increase in partying this weekend, when the race would normally be held.
“If the weather is nice, we would expect an uptick in parties, and we are preparing for that scenario with extra officers patrolling all weekend to help ensure the safety of all of our students, faculty, staff and visitors,” Bunger said.