A video posted to the @bu_gigs Instagram page Saturday depicting a large social gathering in StuVi 2 has elicited the attention of Boston University administration. The event in the video is reportedly under investigation.
The video originally appeared on TikTok and was anonymously sent to BU Gigs, where it received significant attention from students in the comment section. Dozens tagged BU’s official Instagram account as well as the personal account of Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore and BU’s student-led COVID-19 safety campaign F— It Won’t Cut It.
BU Gigs switched to a public profile for four hours the day of the posting, allowing the official @bostonu account to see the comments tagging it under the video.
The video has since been deleted, but BU Gigs had also posted a screenshot of an Instagram direct message from the University’s account in reference to the video.
“We have passed this information along to the appropriate leadership at the Dean of Students office,” the message stated. “The University takes all reports of this nature very seriously, and we will address this.”
The DOS and Office of Residence Life did not respond to inquiries about an investigation.
BU spokesperson Colin Riley wrote in an email that he believes administration will handle the case following the protocols set forth for safety violations this semester.
“Compliance and commitment by students is extremely important to the University’s efforts to limit and contain the spread of COVID this fall,” Riley wrote. “The measures put into place will work if everyone makes their best effort. Everything one does to keep themselves safe, keeps others safe.”
Kaluwe Muntanga, a senior at Northeastern University, runs the BU Gigs account as well as promotional accounts for several other universities. Muntanga wrote in a direct message that he prefers not to comment on the content he posts, since his pages merely act as a student platform.
Elmore outlined in an Aug. 26 email to students the University’s policy regarding social gatherings on campus, stating that any students who host or attend a gathering of more than 25 people will be suspended for the remainder of the Fall semester.
One of the students featured in the video — who asked to remain anonymous — provided a statement via email, writing that no University guidelines were broken at the gathering.
“11 people were present,” the student wrote. “Three more were seen entering the suite, but they were not in attendance and were going to their room. No community health or guest guidelines were broken.”
Elmore told The Daily Free Press on Sept. 9 that BU had begun disciplining students for violating campus rules. The University has conducted investigations into several gatherings of less than 25 people.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to do this,” Elmore had said. “A large group can be five people depending on the amount of space you have.”
Elmore said it’s important to keep in mind that the University is not interested in stopping all social interactions, but that groups should be of a safe size.
Daniel Vigil, a sophomore in the College of Fine Arts, said he suspected there would be some students who would not follow University guidelines upon returning to campus and hopes BU will take action toward preventing future violations.
“I really do feel like the University should respond by making a statement condemning it and then I think the students definitely should be suspended,” Vigil said. “All it takes is that one gathering and if that causes the mass outbreak on campus, then we all get sent home.”
Students expressed mixed views on the use of social media platforms like BU Gigs to bring attention to cases such as last week’s gathering.
Sophie Shepard, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, said she thinks BU is effective in its health policies and consequences for community health violations, but that it does not have a clear channel for students to report such cases. She said social media provides an accessible reporting platform for students.
“There’s not really a standardized way of enforcing [policies],” Shepard said. “People see these sorts of things happening, they see them on people’s stories or in this case on TikTok, and it’s a clear violation.”
Shepard also said she thinks the use of social media as a reporting tool provides an incentive for students to adhere to health guidelines.
“You should be embarrassed to be in a group that big and not being safe,” Shepard said, “and disregarding the people impacted by COVID.”
Vigil also said he believes social media is an effective platform for shedding light on potentially dangerous social gatherings, and that he most likely would not have known about the event if the video had not been shared on BU Gigs.
“If someone in the building wasn’t aware of it, I hope that the residence office in StuVi2 notifies everyone there was an event,” Vigil said. “Because what if someone didn’t know about it, didn’t hear about it, and … they’re walking through the halls with someone who threw a huge party and is now at high risk.”
CAS freshman Tia Austin said she believes using social media as a reporting platform is effective for documenting serious health violations, but that some students have begun sending videos or written accounts of social gatherings that are within University guidelines.
“If you keep addressing all the small things, [administrators] are going to stop taking the page and taking the reports as seriously as they should,” Austin said. “So when it comes to someone that actually does break the guidelines and needs repercussions because they’re putting everyone else in danger, they might not respond as well or they might not see it.”
Melissa Ellin contributed to the reporting of this article.