Eleven University of New Hampshire students tested positive for COVID-19 with connections to a party hosted on August 29 by the Theta Chi fraternity. The large gathering of over 100 people, both UNH students and non-students, broke multiple campus-wide rules put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
In an email sent out to the UNH community, President James Dean wrote, “Let me be clear: this is reckless behavior and the kind of behavior that undermines our planning and will lead us to switching to a fully remote mode.”
The cluster of cases brought about concern from New Hampshire residents, some of which wondered if opening on-campus housing was the right choice. However, UNH has demonstrated how serious they find the coronavirus pandemic, and have instituted a host of new protocols for students and faculty.
UNH requires all faculty and staff to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week. Other protocols include: keeping face masks on at all times except when in dorm rooms, and an eight person capacity in all dorm rooms. Winnacunnet alumni and UNH freshman Nolan Duffy said he was surprised to see that students have actually been following these new protocols.
“Surprisingly everyone’s following the rules,” Duffy said. “There’s a handful of stupid kids but they either got COVID and were sent home, or were expelled for rule breaking.”
The life on campus this year is a bit different than it has been in years past. The dining halls no longer have self-serve options, and there are plexiglass dividers on all of the tables. Other changes include the cancelling of some clubs, as well as a stricter management of the Greek life on campus.
“I haven’t left my room in two days,” Duffy said. “I feel like I’ve met a lot less people than I would’ve if COVID wasn’t a thing.”
Upperclassmen say that things are relatively comparable to how it was pre-COVID with a few exceptions. Students want New Hampshire residents to know that they are following the rules put in place by the university and to stop spreading rumors about students being sent home. Sophomore Annie Montanus said things really aren’t too bad.
“It’s really easy to make it seem like a horrible situation,” Montanus said. “But after having lived in it for a month I can say that they really are looking out for the students.”
Out of the 178,506 tests that have been administered since July 29 for staff, faculty, and students, there have been 211 positive results, as of October 16. For updated information visit the UNH COVID-19 Updates and Safety Guidelines page.