STILLWATER, Okla. (NewsNation) — Twenty-three members of sorority at Oklahoma State University have tested positive for COVID-19 with the entire house now in a mandatory two-week isolation. Classes just started on Monday.
Students and locals told NewsNation that despite the pandemic, there has been no lack of back-to-school partying. Social media flooded with scenes of Oklahoma State University students in crowded clubs, bars and even street fights during the last weekend of summer.
Others vehemently disagree and are none too pleased with the careless Cowboys on campus. NewsNation talked to one Stillwater resident who wished to remain anonymous because his spouse is a campus professor. He said some of the students are partying like it’s 2019.
“It’s not cool,” he said. “And driving down Greek Row and seeing hundreds of students and Greek life members playing basketball and there being 30 or 40 people on a court, it is scary.”
After 23 members of the Pi Beta Phi sorority house tested positive for COVID-19, the university released a campus-wide update to students, saying in part:
“…Due to the nature of this situation, the entire chapter house is in isolation or quarantine and will be prohibited from leaving the facility…All involved are currently being monitored by OSU and Payne County Health Department and contact tracing is being conducted to further protect the campus community.”
Freshman Ian Nikkel just moved in last week. He worries most about students being sent home mid-semester during his first year of college. His college experience now anything but traditional.
“It is a little worrisome,” said Nikkel. “I saw the 23-student thing, and I was like crap it’s already started. That’s been my biggest fear is that it would start.”
Oklahoma State defensive back Tre Sterling tweeted to condemn reckless behavior—warning fellow classmates that they should stop partying if they want to attend a football game.
“Not to be a Debby downer either but if they wanna see us play the game the parties gotta stop,” said Sterling. ‘I gotta go to class with students then go back to my team. And some of my teammates have children.”
Sterling also tweeted he would not be going to class on Monday after videos started surfacing of long lines outside of Stillwater bars with little masks or social distancing.In reference to the bar scene, the anonymous man said: “The Strip is packed! You see students and patrons of the bars just lined up outside to get in—no social distancing, no masks.”
OSU President Burns Hargis saying masks and social distancing are non-negotiable—telling the school in an email on Monday that he was disappointed in the weekend behavior of students blatantly disregarding protocols.
“We’ve been working very hard to prepare our campus for a productive and safe semester,” said Hargis. “But for that to happen, we all play a critical role, and that starts with wearing masks.”
Student body president Jaden Kasitz talked to NewsNation about the state of OSU. Kasitz said she doesn’t believe the social media videos represent the majority of student activity.
Kaditz also added that most of the partying is happening off campus and downtown. A campus officer confirmed that claim, saying the department had a “quiet” weekend leading up to the first day of school. He said, on campus, there was a single DUI arrest over the weekend.