The University of Kansas has issued public health bans to students living at two off-campus houses after a video showed crowded weekend parties, a KU spokeswoman said Monday afternoon.
“Most of our students are doing the right thing, but we will not tolerate selfish and irresponsible behavior that puts the health and safety of our community at risk,” said Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, KU’s director of news and media relations, in an email.
The number of students issued the ban was not immediately available.
The ban comes after a video showed University of Kansas students at crowded house parties this past weekend.
“While the university has received reports of off-campus parties, often there has not been enough information to act on — for instance, reports that don’t contain names of individuals or organizations involved,” Barcomb-Peterson said. “We are acting when we have enough information to pursue a public health ban and/or the student conduct process.”
Ward Lyles, an associate professor in the School of Public Affairs and Administration, posted a series of videos to Twitter of a crowded party Saturday in the 1100 block of Mississippi Street, which is just off KU’s campus.
“Masks? Social distancing? Nope,” Lyles tweeted. “Super spreader event? Yep.”
Lyles also observed two ”massive” parties on Alabama and Kentucky streets
The sight of mass gatherings at house parties have a Douglas County health officials urging people to make better choices.
“It is the responsibility of every individual to be smart and safe thereby protecting others from COVID,” said Dan Partridge, director of Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health. “The spread of COVID will be slowed not by orders but by all of us doing our part.”
That message, however, appeared to have been ignored by some college-aged students in Lawrence over the weekend who packed parties at off-campus residences.
In an attempt to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in Lawrence and Douglas County, local health officials issued an emergency order earlier this month that in part banned mass gatherings of more than 45 individuals.
Bars and restaurant serving alcohol are also required to cease serving alcohol at 9 p.m. and close by 10 p.m., including outside seating areas or patios. They may offer carry-out, curbside and delivery of food after 10 p.m., but they cannot offer alcohol. Restaurants that don’t serve alcohol are not required to close at 10 p.m.
Kansas statutes regarding public health orders specify that enforcement is the responsibility of law enforcement, Partridge said.
“We have been working with them to see what is possible but more discussions are needed,” he said. Those discussions focus around how best to enforce the public health orders in the legal process.
“Our focus in public health is compliance with the orders as an end,” he said.
However, Lyles said that when police stopped by one of the homes while he was there, officers told him they couldn’t do anything about the crowd. That fell into the health department’s jurisdiction, not the police department’s, he was told.
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