Cops increase presence in off-campus UNC student neighborhoods to enforce social distancing policies

A video of UNC students hosting a sorority rush in their off-campus home went viral on social media, sparking backlash from university and government officials.

UNC sent a letter to off-campus housing corporation partners, threatening them with closure of chapter facilities and loss of university recognition.

Students could be fined or jailed for violating social distancing orders.

The town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina announced it will increase police patrols in neighborhoods with off-campus student housing to enforce the University of North Carolina’s social distancing policies. The increased enforcement follows reports of students engaging in parties and Greek life events without following social distancing protocol.

A video posted by CBS 17 shows several dozen UNC students reportedly hosting sorority rush events in an off-campus home. The clip went viral in early August, sparking backlash from university officials, as well as local and state governments. 

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According to student paper The Daily Tar Heel, Chapel Hill police chief Chris Blue said that this video and several recent 911 calls, emails, and health department calls from the community sparked a meeting among state and county officials to discuss social distancing enforcement.

North Carolina State and Orange County’s orders limit outdoor gatherings to 25 individuals and indoor gatherings to 10 individuals. 

In its announcement of increased patrols, the town noted that violators of state or local orders would be subject to “up to a $1,000 fine and up to 60 days in jail.”

Blue confirmed to Campus Reform that charges will be reserved for repeat violators and “glaring violations of the crowd limitations.”

An Instagram page dedicated to calling for the abolition of Greek life at UNC posted about the incident, stating that the sorority members “willingly disregarded the health and safety of the Chapel Hill community by association with a potential superspreader event.” 

The post, which received over 3,000 likes, also asserts that “white and wealth privilege isolate these girls from the consequences of their immoral actions on low-income Black and Brown communities.”

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UNC Student Affairs sent a letter to fraternity and sorority housing corporations, threatening “closure of chapter facilities and loss of university recognition” if health department regulations are not followed. A separate July 30 letter from UNC Dean of Students Desiree Rieckenberg announced that fraternity and sorority recruitment would be virtual during the fall semester.

Campus Reform reached out to UNC; this article will be updated with their responses.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft