Boston University’s chapter of the professional business and economics fraternity Phi Chi Theta is on “probation,” Senior Associate Dean of Students Jason Campbell-Foster said, after a video circulated online of 15 people — including frat members — at an off-campus gathering last month.
The video was posted to the @BU_gigs Instagram account and has since been taken down. The gathering was hosted by a fraternity alumnus with some current members in attendance, according to Vice President of Recruitment Connyr Lu.
Lu said the gathering was not directly affiliated with the fraternity and was never discussed in its official communication channels.
“As members of the Boston University and greater Boston community, we do recognize and gravely regret the actions taken that day,” Lu wrote in an email. “Though the event was not an official PCT event, we would still like to take responsibility as many of the attendees are members of our fraternity.”
BU Phi Chi Theta decided to suspend the involved students from participating in fraternity activities, according to a statement posted on its website.
The organization has had COVID-19 guidelines in place since the summer, Lu wrote, but revised them after the incident and added actionable repercussions like community service.
Lu added the host of the gathering is not currently affiliated with BU or the fraternity itself.
“We recognize the immense effort that the BU community has undertaken to make the Learn from Anywhere program safe and to keep our campus open, and that this is no small feat,” Lu wrote. “While our members were under the impression that they were complying by attending a gathering that consisted of less than 25 people, we understand that we ultimately let our community down.”
BU PCT leadership is also in consultation with Director of Student Activities John Battaglino to create a plan to “educate” students who attended the gathering on complying with the University’s COVID-19 guidelines, Lu said. The fraternity is still looking for “community service opportunities” for members who attended the gathering, she added.
Battaglino wrote in an email he does not wish to comment on his private conversation with the group.
BU Judicial Affairs — which handles disciplinary action for students — declined to comment for privacy reasons.
Katherine Cornetta, assistant to the Dean of Students, wrote in an email the University asks all students to comply with state, City and University COVID-19 guidelines for social gatherings.
“These policies are not just for the safety of the BU community, but the community-at-large,” Cornetta wrote. “While making social connections is key to the University experience, students need to make those connections safely.”
Nasra Noor, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, said she thought it was “selfish” of the Phi Chi Theta-affiliated students to attend a social gathering during the pandemic.
“With the way coronavirus multiplies, it is going to make it way worse if there’s a party because cases are already up, and now they are just simply going to get higher,” Noor said.
CAS freshman Nashwa Jaffer said some students would be more harmed by a campus-wide shutdown caused by COVID-19 than others, and it’s these students everyone else must be thinking about.
“I think it comes from a place of privilege, honestly, to be able to do that,” Jaffer said of attending large social gatherings. “I think people need to really recognize that and really sit down and think how they’re impacting others.”
The percentage of COVID-19 cases within the BU community is lower than it is in surrounding communities and in the state as a whole, BU spokesperson Colin Riley said, adding he hopes the University can continue this trend.
“Everything you do to protect yourself from this virus helps to protect others. So far, generally, we’re pleased. I think students deserve a lot of credit,” Riley said. “You want to do things that reflect positively on you as an individual, on your school, on your family.”
Melissa Ellin contributed to the reporting of this article.
Connyr Lu was previously an associate photo editor for The Daily Free Press.