The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

MUPD guidelines for student gatherings unclear


Like 20% of universities throughout the country, Marquette chose to bring students back to campus this fall. While students have been adjusting to the “new normal” of a mixture of online, in-person and hybrid classes, restructuring their social lives has been a point of contention. 

Despite safety guidelines, some students have continued to throw parties or host large gatherings. The University cautioned against students’ Halloween weekend parties, which may be culpable for a steepening of the coronavirus curve — the Marquette COVID-19 dashboard data, showing the week following halloween weekend, concludes there was a spike in COVID-19 cases on campus: 40 students and two faculty members tested positive.

“Students have been afraid of on-campus gatherings because of the risk of getting in trouble, and, since blocks away, bars, restaurants, hair salons, stores and other businesses are open many students have been conflicted with the message sent by Marquette University,” said a student who wishes to remain anonymous, due to being an attendee of these gatherings.

Another student, who will remain anonymous with the same rationale, echoed these thoughts and said they felt that the expectations surrounding social gatherings and potential punishments have been unclear.

Marquette sent out an email on November 6th with revisions made to the COVID-19 alert level. The guidelines listed in regard to social gatherings state “MUPD will increase enforcement related to off-campus parties,” but there is no information to gather how this will be enforced and what consequences are to be faced if Marquette guidelines are not followed.

“I feel like since starting school, we have not had a clear outline of the rules we have to follow when off campus. Can we go to a friends house to study? Can we have small gatherings? There were never straight-up rules lined out for us other than ‘practice social distancing,’ the first student said. 

Before classes had officially begun in August, several members of the Marquette community reported a large gathering of unmasked, non-distanced students near 17th St. and Kilbourn Ave on Aug. 22. In the last weekend of August, Jeff Kranz, assistant chief of Marquette University police department, shared MUPD received over a dozen reports of more than one outdoor gathering near campus. 

Kranz said MUPD has implemented specific tactics in which student gatherings during the pandemic may be regulated. Kranz, along with Lora Strigens, vice president for Planning and Facilities, is part of the recovery subcommittee of Marquette’s COVID-19 Response Team. 

“Primarily, (we are) educating students on the dangers of having gatherings right now at this time of the pandemic,” Kranz said. “Initially, we were handing out a flier that had some information on COVID-19, but a lot of it is just discussions and the officers talking and kind of providing some guidance on social distancing and the importance of wearing a mask and the dangers about getting together.”

Since the initial arrival of students back on campus, the police department has seen a “marked decrease” in social gatherings on campus and in off campus housing, Kranz said. But he acknowledged students may gather in large groups off campus. 

“I cant speak on behalf of what the students are doing if they’re not gathering on campus,” Kranz said. 

According to the Marquette University coronavirus dashboard, two students reported they had tested positive for the coronavirus while zero faculty had reported positive cases Aug. 24. On Nov. 5, 40 students and two faculty members tested positive — the highest single-day total this fall semester. On Nov. 8, that number dipped down, with to seven positive student cases and two positive cases among faculty. This brings the total case count to 678 positive tests between students and faculty. 

With campus’s risk level rising from moderate to high alert over the weekend, gatherings were cited as the driver of increased case numbers in a COVID-19 update on Marquette Today’s page. The update was also sent in an email. 

While the update states “To be clear: none of these cases on campus are due to transmission in classroom or laboratory settings,” transmission in the classroom remains a concern. The School of Dentistry second-year class was placed on a cautionary quarantine over concerns of a COVID-19 exposure that occurred off campus. 

MUPD is responsible for handing out citations to students who are found attending large gatherings. MUPD may either be notified of a gathering through a reporting system or find gatherings while on patrol. Some students, however, feel as though MUPD could be more diligent in both dissolving large gatherings and issuing citations for breaking student conduct guidelines and city regulations.

“I feel like (MUPD) haven’t been around very much,” the first student said. 

MUPD does not, however, directly have the jurisdiction to punish students for social gatherings, Kranz said. Once citations are handed out, the case goes into the hands of Student Conduct. It is unclear what form disciplinary action might take. 

Student Conduct declined a request for comment on the consequences associated with Student Conduct citations.

Other universities have issued interim suspensions for students that attend large social gatherings without wearing face masks and abiding by social distancing guidelines. Ohio State University issued over 200 interim suspensions for off-campus parties between Aug. 19 and 23, although about half of the suspensions were lifted after students proved they had not attended or hosted unsafe gatherings.

According to CDC guidelines, the gatherings which pose the highest health risk are large, in-person events where it is difficult for attendees to remain six feet apart and individuals travel from outside the local area. The lowest risk are virtual-only events.

Story continues below advertisement
Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Marquette Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *