UMass fraternity throws party against COVID-19 restrictions

Students express strong emotions against first documented large gathering
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article referenced a video posted on UMass gigs and a UMass Reddit page of a frat party allegedly at Theta Chi. After publication, the video was unable to timestamped and has been removed due to lack of verification. The reactions in the article currently reflect the aforementioned video.
DISCLAIMER: The source, which we will refer to as John Doe throughout the article, from an on-campus fraternity asked to remain anonymous because of fear of harassment and backlash.

Two videos of back-to-back massive parties at campus fraternity Theta Chi, with mask-less young people, packed to the brim while dancing and drinking surfaced last weekend.

John Doe, a junior year stem major and a member of a local fraternity at UMass, came forward to also confirm that the fraternity was indeed Theta Chi. 

Doe saw the video on someone’s Snapchat Story before the video was posted to @Umass_gigs and the Reddit page. 

“You can see the Theta Chi letters in the background,” said Doe. 

Students in the comments section expressed anger and frustration towards the video on how it will only further delay UMass from going back to having a normal semester and the looming possibility of being sent home this current semester.

Jemma Kepner, a sophomore theatre major, commented, “the very people who complain about campus not being normal again yet are also the same ones doing the super spreading.

Similarly, first-year and legal studies major, Ava Amuso, commented, “the ignorance is infuriating and so disappointing yet not surprising at all.” 

In a separate interview, Amuso continued to say, “many people seem to have the attitude that this problem doesn’t apply to them and that their actions don’t have consequences or directly affect the situation …. It seems as though people have taken advantage of the little freedoms we were given in our first week or two, and now as a result, we have almost none, as the campus moves from the guarded phase to into the elevated phase.” 

John Doe expressed deep frustration and aggravation about the video, especially being from a fraternity himself. 

“It’s definitely infuriating. We’re definitely just more cautious about that kind of stuff,” said Doe 

And this isn’t the first time that fraternities like Theta Chi have had gatherings, Doe admits. There have been plenty of other gatherings, both from Theta Chi and another fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau, but this is the first party documented with a video and leaked to the public eye.  

Some students even mentioned that they would like to see Theta Chi be kicked off campus for such actions. However, John Doe believes that may not be the case. 

“They don’t really give a f— because they’ve been on campus for like 200 years and they can’t really get kicked off.” [Note: Theta Chi’s UMass chapter was founded in 1908] 

He continues to say, “the Theta Chi fraternity owns that house. The letters are engraved in stone on the house…I’m sure they could do something to get kicked off. It hasn’t happened yet, and they’ve done some pretty sh—ty stuff.” 

Doe also touched upon the irony between off-campus parties versus fraternities having parties.“I’m a little confused about like, I don’t know Hobart parties, or like, you know, smaller gatherings with like 20, 30, 40, people have gotten shut down by the cops that didn’t.”  

In looking into the UMPD Crime Logs over the weekend, the majority of the reports were traffic stops or suspicious person/vehicle activity. There was one alcohol violation in Lot 71 on Saturday, Jan. 30, but no information about the party.

Furthermore, in an email from Jeffery Hescock, the Executive Director of Environmental Health and Safety, on Friday, Feb. 5, new restrictions were placed on the campus community due to the recent large uptick of COVID-19 cases. There were 239 new cases during the first week of classes, which is a 2.9% positivity rate. 

When asked about first years being blamed for the increase in cases, Amuso said, “I think it’s a mistake to solely blame freshmen, especially while almost anyone can see on social media that greek life organizations have thrown massive parties consisting of dozens of people in tight quarters with no masks on (as seen on Snapchat) resulting in a spike of positive cases.”

Whether it be her fellow first-years or other UMass students, Amuso noted, “I say that we all need to think about the fact that it is a privilege for us to be on campus this semester. Many people are still stuck at home learning from their bedrooms or basements as many of us were this past fall.”

“I think many of us can agree that being on campus with a dampened social life beats learning from home any day,” said Amuso.

According to a statement obtained on Monday, Feb. 8 from University Officials, Theta Chi has been placed on interim suspension pending an investigation.


Email Nicole at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @NicoleBiagoni_

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