Arizona State University President Michael Crow has repeatedly expressed confidence in the ability of the university to return to in-person classes safely.
“If everyone follows the guidelines in our Community of Care plan, wears a mask, social distances, (completes the) health check, testing if you’re showing symptoms, we’re not going to have any problems,” Crow told the university’s student newspaper, The State Press, last week.
Before the university had even completed a full day of classes, though, video emerged that appears to show ASU students flouting those guidelines.
Posted by the “Barstool ASU” Instagram account, part of a network of accounts that post memes connected to their respective colleges and photos of women in swimsuits, the video shows at least 30 people packed into a windowless room as a man hurls himself on to a beer pong table that collapses. A flag in the background reads “No Half Sends.”
The video is captioned, “It was a good semester, see you all on zoom!”
A second video posted on the account on Wednesday shows a group of around 12 college-age guys shoulder-to-shoulder in what resembles a dorm room as four of them play beer pong. When one sinks his shot they begin cheering. The video is location-tagged at Hassayampa Academic Village, an ASU residence.
The ASU Barstool account did not respond to an Instagram or Twitter message seeking more details.
Katie Paquet, an ASU spokesperson, said the university is aware of the party videos. She said the school is reaching out to students who have posted them and been identified in them. (The lack of identifying information in the first video will make it difficult to confirm it took place at ASU, Paquet added.)
“The university has been clear — and continues to be clear — that social gatherings on or off-campus that don’t adhere to public health protocols will not be tolerated,” she wrote in an email. “We need all members of the ASU community to do their part and adhere to public health guidelines in order to have a successful semester.”
At the very least, the behavior in both videos appears to violate public health guidelines regarding the wearing of masks and gathering in groups of more than 10.
Paquet said student disciplinary actions are private under federal law, but violations of the student code can result in anything from a warning to expulsion.
As some universities have sought to resume in-person classes for the fall, critics have questioned whether students would put aside partying to follow social-distancing guidelines. Just this week, administrators at Syracuse University in New York admonished students after video captured over 100 of them gathering on campus. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suspended classes after multiple COVID-19 clusters emerged among students.
In a statement, the ASU Community of Care Coalition, a campus group concerned about the reopening, said the videos are consistent with what its members have been seeing across multiple campuses and that ASU should reconsider its reopening plans instead of blaming students.
“The behavior seen in these videos makes abundantly clear what common sense should have dictated to ASU leadership in the first place: efforts to enforce consistent student social distancing and mask-wearing will fail,” the group wrote. “ASU should not continue to risk the health of students, employees, and the broader community. As the outbreaks at our peer institutions around the country have demonstrated, community spread is inevitable if we continue down this path. ASU leadership should make the responsible choice before tragedy strikes.”
Or, in the words of one Instagram commenter: “[ASU president] daddy crow seeing this like: [eye emoji][parted lips emoji][eye emoji].”
Erasmus Baxter is a staff writer for Phoenix New Times.