Novel coronavirus information

February 19, 2021

Last weekend’s reckless gathering impacts our whole community (Message to Seattle students)

Dear Students,

The COVID-19 pandemic has made all of our lives more difficult and has fundamentally changed your college experience, eliminating many of the opportunities for socializing that are part of that experience. However, the large gathering that took place in an alleyway north of campus this past Saturday did not live up to the most basic health standards to which the University of Washington holds our students and community members.

A large group of students, including many from the Greek community, flagrantly disregarded state, local and UW health guidance and restrictions with a large, outdoor gathering. Social media posts and formal complaints from other students show hundreds of students packed together, without face coverings, for extended periods. We are deeply disappointed that so many UW students would choose to endanger not only themselves and those in our own community, but potentially a much wider circle of people.

This conduct is particularly disappointing given the extensive education, support and collaboration we have undertaken with our Greek community in an effort to drive down COVID cases after at least 47 post-winter break cases among the Greek houses. And it comes less than a week after we notified the Seattle campus that at least one of the new, more contagious coronavirus variants has been detected here, making adherence to health guidelines even more vital to not just returning to a more normal way of living and learning, but to avoiding a return to lockdowns.

To be clear, to the best of our knowledge, this gathering was not exclusively of Greek students. And we also recognize that most members of the Greek community are following health guidelines – I thank all of them who are. But the actions we saw Saturday put people at risk. These actions, and any future such actions, will have consequences.

Therefore, effective immediately, any student who participated in the February 13 gathering is prohibited from attending any in-person class or other activity, with the exception of taking a coronavirus test, on campus until February 28. Students found to be in violation of this will be subject to campus discipline, up to and including suspension from the UW. All students in attendance at this event are requested to self-isolate until February 28 and should get tested at least 5-7 days after the gathering. They should remain in quarantine even if the test result is negative and get tested again within two days of ending quarantine. Anyone who tests positive or develops symptoms should contact the UW COVID Response and Prevention Team at or 206.616.3344.

The University is also initiating an investigation to hold accountable those organizations and/or individuals who initiated and participated in this event. Those found to have violated the UW Student Code of Conduct are subject to disciplinary action. As a University community we will not tolerate callous disregard for public health guidance, which endangers not only fellow Huskies, but members of the neighborhood and community at large.

Moving forward from this incident and investigation, we expect every member of the UW community to follow conduct standards and health guidelines – something most of you have been doing, for which I thank you. And we expect student organizations, including fraternities and sororities, to hold their members to those standards. We are in a public health emergency and should this kind of flagrant disregard for community standards reoccur, we will consider additional disciplinary measures and a reevaluation of Greek chapters’ relationships with the University of Washington.

We are a community, and the understandable impulse that makes it tempting to take part in a large gathering should be the same impulse that makes us stop and consider the consequences and impact of our actions on the community we care about. Again, most students are doing so, despite the pandemic fatigue we all feel.

Please stay safe, be considerate and remember the three W’s: Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Watch your distance.

Thank you,

Denzil J. Suite
Vice President for Student Life