Greek Life leaders officially nixed parties and other social gatherings for the fall semester on Wednesday, formalizing what was likely a foregone conclusion in a pandemic.
The move comes as Cornell mounts a reopening model that hinges on contact tracing and student compliance with a behavioral contract, and as universities across the nation walk back reopening plans amid localized and regional outbreaks of COVID-19.
Cornell’s Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council, and Multicultural Greek and Fraternal Council took the lead in implementing the moratorium, a university spokesperson wrote in an email.
The policy bars any on-campus or off-campus event that could be associated with a Tri-council chapter “by a reasonable outside observer.” Likewise, events planned by members of a Tri-council chapter for that chapter or those financed or publicized by a chapter are prohibited.
After Oct. 5, however, the policy shifts: Alcohol-free events with less than 30 participants are allowed so long as they are in accordance with Cornell’s prevailing behavioral compact, which currently prohibits gatherings of over 30 individuals. The policy also notes that the 30-person maximum may shift based on future University or public health guidance.
“I give credit to the chapter presidents for understanding the seriousness of the pandemic and engaging in proactive discussions regarding safety,” wrote IFC President Terrence Burke ’21 in a statement to The Sun. “The decision to suspend events was unanimous across the Tri- Council and I’m looking forward to seeing how our members can positively impact the community by assisting with move-in and the Peer Health Ambassador program.”
Across the nation, several localized outbreaks of COVID-19 have been traced to college fraternity parties and houses.
At The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, COVID-19 clusters emerged at the Sigma Nu and Zeta Psi fraternity houses after the school welcomed students back to campus. The campus outbreak prompted UNC to cancel in-person instruction for the fall, becoming the latest in a slew of schools to send students packing after a surge in cases.
The fall is shaping up to be the third straight semester at Cornell with a significantly scaled back Greek social event scene.
In fall of 2019, IFC implemented a social event ban after the death of Antonio Tsialas and after Panhellenic Sororities attempted to pass a freeze on mixers due to safety concerns — PHC leaders also demanded stronger protections against sexual misconduct at the events. This past spring, strong regulations implemented by President Martha E. Pollack dissuaded many greek letter organizations from hosting frequent large-scale events.
But come March, after University officials announced campus’s closure and urged students to take public health precautions, students packed parties and bars in Collegetown as the final days of the semester dawned.