October 14, 2020
I understand that everyone is growing weary of our current COVID reality, and that we’re all searching for some sense of normalcy. But we cannot let these feelings derail our commitment to have a safe on-ground experience for ourselves and our city. Over the weekend, we received many reports of really egregious misconduct related to COVID-19 safety protocols. Reports included everything from house parties and partying in the French Quarter and on Tchoupitoulas to neighbors reporting that students are not wearing masks off campus. Some behaviors were not only in disregard to our clearly communicated policies but were also in violation of those of the city of New Orleans. Many students involved will face suspension or expulsion.
I am writing today to remind you of our public health requirements and that we take student conduct violations very seriously.
First, in social settings, remember that the 15 people limit includes house parties or events at bars or other establishments. In addition, even if you have 15 people or less at your private gathering, they need to wear masks and remain socially distanced. Also, renting out party buses is currently illegal in the city of New Orleans. While these limits may seem burdensome, they can save lives. Since the beginning of the semester, we have seen the impact of good choices as well as poor decisions on our rate of COVID cases.
Secondly, it has come to light, through many reports from neighbors and other community members, that many of our students are not wearing masks off campus. Each weekend, university leaders walk around campus to engage with students, hear firsthand how the semester is going and gauge the levels of safety protocol compliance on and around campus. These leaders have reported not only a decrease in compliance, but also report receiving disrespectful and uncooperative responses when asking students to wear masks. Again, masks are required on and off campus — even if you’ve tested negative or have already had COVID. These safety measures are not only in place to protect individuals but to protect the entire community. Refusing to comply with this rule, particularly when asked, will result in significant student conduct consequences.
I know that most of you have been complying with safety rules, and again I want to thank you for this. We do currently have more restrictive standards than the city. However, because most students live in residential halls or apartments with non-relatives and lead more active social lives than the average city resident, they are believed to have a greater risk than many segments of our society of both potentially contracting this virus and infecting others. As soon as we are safely able to loosen these restrictions, we will.
While many universities around the country have had to return to full remote learning after welcoming students back to campus, Tulane has been one of the few schools that has been able to continue in-person classes while maintaining a positivity rate lower than the city or state’s rates. We are over halfway through the semester and with everyone’s cooperation and adherence to the rules, we can safely navigate the rest of the fall 2020 semester.
Dean of Students