UC Berkeley bans fraternity parties, student gatherings

Photo of UC Berkeley's frat row.
Jasmany Flores/File
In order to encourage student organizations to comply with state public health guidelines, UC Berkeley has banned them from organizing in-person gatherings.

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UC Berkeley has officially banned student organizations from gathering in person both on and off campus, including for fraternity parties, in its most recent state-aligned decision.

Following state guidance released Aug. 7 instructing California universities to implement COVID-19 prevention plans, campus decided to prohibit registered and affiliated student organizations from sponsoring or organizing in-person events. If a student group chooses not to comply, its members could be subject to the student conduct process, according to campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff.

“Affiliated student organizations that hold in-person meetings, gatherings, or events off-campus risk suspension or revocation of their affiliation with the campus,” Ratliff said in an email. “Students who violate campus public health directives while on campus property could be subject to the campus disciplinary processes.”

This comes after a rise in UC Berkeley’s COVID-19 cases around June, stemming from a series of parties that included some members of the CalGreeks community who reside in fraternity houses.

Ratliff said the individuals who contracted the disease interacted with others, leading to secondary spreading within and outside of the CalGreeks community.

“That increase in COVID cases should serve as a powerful reminder to practice basic safety measures including physical distancing, wearing a facial covering, avoiding large gatherings, not hosting indoor gatherings involving individuals outside your household, etc.,” Ratliff said in the email.

Because off-campus events include those conducted in CalGreeks residences, Ratliff said the LEAD Center has been working closely with the Panhellenic Council and Interfraternity Council on housing procedures, virtual activities and the development of online resources.

To encourage compliance with the directives, campus will continue to send targeted messages to CalGreeks students, emphasizing the importance of adhering to public health requirements, according to Ratliff.

Delta Kappa Epsilon member Kelvin Ervais and ASUC Senator Michael Savides, who represents the CalGreeks community, agreed that this is the best decision for campus COVID-19 mitigation.

“It is completely fair to ask students to stop holding large social gatherings in the middle of a pandemic, as by doing so, they are endangering not only themselves, but their friends, loved ones, and anyone else they might see,” Savides said in an email. “Lives are on the line and it is not the time to get overconfident.”

Ervais and Savides said they recognize that the ban will significantly hinder the typical CalGreeks experience. However, Savides encouraged CalGreeks students to find new ways to socially interact with each other, either virtually or while wearing masks and without holding or attending parties.

Additionally, Ervais echoed Savides’ sentiment and said while Delta Kappa Epsilon has no plans to host in-person events until it is safe to do so, it is hosting a virtual rush for prospective CalGreeks students.

According to Ratliff, there is no indication of when in-person gatherings will be permitted.

Contact Veronica Roseborough at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @v_roseborough.