College party with 400 people shut down at ECU

GREENVILLE, N.C. — About 20 parties, including one with nearly 400 people in attendance, were shut down at a university in North Carolina during the school’s opening weekend, campus police said.

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The parties, which violate the state’s ban on large gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic, were held last week and over the weekend at East Carolina University, Lt. Chris Sutton of the university’s police department said.

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Nearly 5,500 students began moving into their dorm rooms at the school last Wednesday, the school said. Most of the parties campus authorities have shut down since then were “manageable” ones with between 25 and 50 people in attendance, Sutton said.

“We’ve really had to change policing methods over the last several weeks due to different events across our country and now we’re having to wrestle with a pandemic since our students have returned to campus,” he added.

The party with 400 people was held a few blocks from the school in an area dominated by off-campus student housing, according to Sutton.

He said it was filled “predominantly” with people who were college-aged. They dispersed once authorities arrived. Officers then spoke with the tenants of the property “so that they understand why this is not acceptable right now and what they can do to help us moving forward,” he added.

Classes started at the university on Monday. Students were not required to be tested for the virus before returning to campus, but “encouraged” to do so by school officials, the news outlet reported.

There are two confirmed coronavirus cases among school staff, and 28 cases among students at the university, according to the school. Reported cases among students has increased by more than three-fold from the week prior.