In an email sent to all members of Miami University's Greek community on Aug. 29, the Interfraternity Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council and Panhellenic Association detailed a new 10-day shelter-in-place order for all Greek Oxford residents as a way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The shelter-in-place policy extends from Aug. 29 to Sept. 9 and notes members should only be leaving their residences for necessary trips.
The message, signed by the three councils’ presidents — MacKenton Johnson, Kyndal Fletcher and Molly McNamara — describes the policy as a proactive response to the rising number of coronavirus cases in Oxford and among students. On Tuesday, cases among students rose to a new high of 527.
In a joint statement made by the council presidents to The Miami Student, they said the decision was made to help stop the spread of the coronavirus and protect students, faculty, Oxford community members and Oxford businesses.
“There is definitely room to grow [more responsible], as community standards has been made aware of many gatherings over 10,” the statement read. “These aren’t necessarily Greek gatherings, but we can’t separate ourselves from issues going on in the greater community, so we decided to be proactive and do more than what is expected of us from the Oxford ordinances.”
Fraternity and sorority members make up about 30% of Miami’s student population, and many fraternity houses brought their members back in the weeks before the beginning of class.
Bryce Crabtree, a senior sports leadership and management major and member of Sigma Alpha Mu (Sammy), said he wasn’t surprised at the councils’ announcement.
“With outbreaks happening all around the country, it was just kind of waiting to happen in my eyes,” Crabtree said.
Alec Ball, a senior diplomacy and global politics major and also a member of Sigma Alpha Mu, said with the new policy he is not able to visit the fraternity’s house off-campus.
“[The policy] messed up [the chances of] going to meet some of the newer guys that got initiated as the pandemic started,” Ball said. “There's less going over to the houses to see those guys.”
Despite that, Ball said it was a good idea for members to shelter-in-place, especially with new members moving into the fraternity houses.
The council presidents wrote in their statement that individual chapter leadership is responsible for holding members accountable, and if a large number of members were not following protocol, the council would step in.
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Danielle Wagner, a junior political science major and Phi Sigma Sigma member, said she thinks the policy was a good idea because she’s seen people in Oxford not following guidelines.
“I am worried about all the people coming back when we do move to in-person classes,” Wagner said, “So I think [the policy] is necessary just given the rising case numbers we’ve had.”
Wagner is also disappointed that her sorority won’t be able to have any in-person events.
“The whole reason people join us is to go to events,” Wagner said. “It is a bummer not being able to see everyone in a big group.”
The three councils’ message to their members states that the compliance of Greek members to this protocol will help all Miami students return to campus and keep the ones that are already in Oxford safe and healthy.
“We know that this is not the Miami experience we are used to,” the message reads. “It is temporary, and this may help us have the opportunity to welcome new students to campus and have face to face instruction.”