Video shows Penn State students partying in massive crowd, ignoring social distancing


UPDATE — Penn State President Eric Barron provided a statement following the incident at East Halls.

“It’s important all students understand that the consequences for violations include possible expulsion.” Barron continued, “We also announced this morning that a fraternity was put on interim suspension for a potential violation of COVID-19 rules regarding socials.”

President Barron’s full statement can be found in the story below.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ) — Wednesday night, videos of Penn State students partying in a large crowd began circulating on social media.

The videos show students ignoring safety guidelines of social distancing within the massive crowd. State College recently passed an ordinance requiring everyone to wear masks and includes a 25 person limit for gatherings.

The ordinance however, does not apply to the college campus where the students are seen partying.

In one of these videos, students are seen chanting “We are, Penn State.”

University police told CBS news Philadelphia that this party was dispersed this around 9:30 last night. However, videos posted on social media appear to show that it ended closer to 11 p.m.

WTAJ reached out to Penn State police for additional information and have not heard back.

It is currently move-in week for freshmen at Penn State. There is a petition circulation calling for the freshman who participated in the party to be sent home for breaking the rules. As of Thursday afternoon, it has gotten close to 4,000 signatures.

This morning we spoke with local leaders who say the incidnet is very alarming and they are very disappointed.

It’s very alarming, this is what everyone was predicting would happen. I think PSU has a big problem with what they’re gonna do about this. It may be very hard to track down all the students who did this and discipline them, but I think the university should try to do that as soon as possible and hold them accountable.

Jesse Barlow, State College Borough Council President

It’s believed that many if not all of the students who took part in the party last night signed a compact agreeing they could be suspended or expelled by the University if they showed disregard for the rules.

Penn State Office of Student Conduct officially placed the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity on interim suspension as a result of the social gathering.

Penn State President Eric Barron released a statement following the incident.

Last night, we saw reports of crowds of students congregating in large numbers outside of East Halls on the University Park campus. Many were not wearing masks, or physical distancing, in violation of the University’s requirements and expectations for doing so, as well as the State College ordinance. We intervened, and the crowds dispersed. These measures are in place to help prevent and contain the possible spread of COVID-19. Last night’s behavior is unacceptable. I ask students flaunting the University’s health and safety expectations a simple question: Do you want to be the person responsible for sending everyone home?

This behavior cannot and will not be tolerated. We have said from the beginning health and safety is our priority, and if the University needs to pivot to fully remote instruction we will. As a reminder, we are using our student conduct process to identify students who are not compliant with University requirements. It’s important all students understand that the consequences for violations include possible expulsion. We also announced this morning that a fraternity was put on interim suspension for a potential violation of COVID-19 rules regarding socials.

We have implemented a multi-layered testing, monitoring, and mitigating approach to allow for a return to on-campus learning and work. But, it will take all of us to do our part. In addition to the launch of Mask Up or Pack up, the University will post additional flyers in residence halls with the question stated above. I don’t think any one individual wants to be the reason we all have to Pack Up.

Ultimately, this is not about sanctioning. It is about protecting individual and community health. And, I want to end on a positive note. I personally have been traversing the University Park campus, and downtown State College. I have been impressed by the numbers of students and families who are masking up, physically distancing, and modeling good community practices. But make no mistake, it only takes a few to ruin it for the many, as we have seen at other universities across the country. So let’s remember. This is our community. It’s our responsibility.

President Eric Barron

WTAJ will continue to update this story as more develops.

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