University of Texas addresses video of people congregating without masks in West Campus


AUSTIN (KXAN) — After videos and photos surfaced of what appears to be a group of dozens of young women gathering in West Campus Monday, the University of Texas at Austin addressing it—saying the group is putting lives at risk.

The video, taken around 6 p.m. Monday, appears to show a large group of more than 20 women wearing halos, but not masks. The person who took the video wanted to stay anonymous, but told KXAN it was filmed by the corner of Rio Grade and West 22nd 1/2 streets.

In a statement Tuesday, the university said it expects all students and community members to follow the safety measures in place.

“We expect all UT students and community members to follow social distancing protocols, wear masks as required and recognize their deep responsibility in protecting the health of the campus and the greater Austin community.”

University of Texas at Austin

The university went on to say those in the footage put themselves and others at risk and should get tested through the school’s Proactive Community Testing program.

An associate dean for UT-Austin also posted a photo on Twitter Monday (which she Tweeted was taken by a colleague) that shows a gathering, which appears to be the same group.

While the post alleges the women pictured are a part of a sorority, UT-Austin did not confirm this to KXAN.

Rush is taking place this week, but the University Panhellenic Council released an all-virtual schedule for Bid Day and wrote in an Instagram story that previously announced Chapter Meet and Greets for Monday afternoon had been canceled.

“Previously announced Chapter Meet & Greets in the afternoon are canceled. New members or their guests may not visit or drop by the chapter facility on Monday, August 24th.”

University Panhellenic Council

As part of its safety protocols, the university asks students not to have large gatherings, and in July, UT-Austin discouraged students from holding parties on or off campus at all.

UT-Austin said it is taking further action by reaching out to advisors and national offices of the groups who were at the gathering “to reinforce our expectations.”

UT previously explained to KXAN that it plans to enforce violations of COVID-19 rules on campus through student conduct consequences, including up to suspension. The UT Police Department only enforces state rules, not City of Austin rules, so the university said it will “continue to look to the City of Austin to enforce its orders on public gatherings.”

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