BOULDER, Colo. — Despite efforts to discourage parties on University Hill in Boulder, Miles Levin walked around this past opening weekend and found hundreds of unmasked students crowded into the usual festivities.
"Frankly frustrated," Levin said. "People did not have masks on. People did not have any physical distancing between one another in large groups."
Levin is a senior at the University of Colorado (CU) and drafted a letter to CU and other entities with worries that what's happening on The Hill is undermining CU's efforts to run in-person learning on campus.
"These students' actions implicate everyone else in the community," Levin said. "It's not just they, themselves who are affected. It's everyone."
The Boulder County Public Health Department (BCPHD) received Levin's letter.
"It's very concerning to us," Chana Goussetis, communications manager with BCPHD, said.
She said the department worked with Boulder and CU leaders to try to persuade students to not have parties on The Hill.
"Hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars planning for preventative messaging, training, teaching students," Goussetis said. "It’s just very disappointing that we’re still seeing this behavior."
Goussetis said the health department could recommend that the campus be shut down if the problem continues. But, she admits, that might not even be the answer.
"That leaves a whole bunch of young people in their apartments, off-campus, all day long and all night long. So, I’m not sure that will actually fix the problem," Goussetis said.
Levin said it's a shared responsibility with government leaders and CU to crack down on massive social gatherings on The Hill. He said the university promised to work with and punish students who continually host parties that violate the public health order.
"They need to enforce their policy outside of the classroom and I don't think they're doing that currently," Levin said.
CU Dean of Students JB Banks was not sure of the exact number but said roughly about a dozen students have been identified on The Hill for the parties starting a process that could lead to suspension with repeat offenses.
"But, it wasn't all of our students," Banks said. "You're talking about a portion of our students who made those decisions, doesn't mean it was the safest decision to make, but I think what we've done and what we've put in place will certainly mitigate some of these circumstances."
Banks believes CU's plans will make a difference in cutting down parties on The Hill. Levin hopes so.
"To have that socialization at a time where it's at an expense for others, I think isn't OK," Levin said.
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