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Dozens gather on campus, violating COVID-19 rules on Saturday

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At least two gatherings of 20 individuals or more, many unmasked, occurred on Saturday in violation of Stanford’s Campus Compact and county public health mandates.

Around 5 p.m., a student reported a gathering near 664 Lomita Court to the Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS). A group of more than 20 mostly maskless individuals were led by two individuals, one of whom was speaking through a loudspeaker, announcing that the group had arrived at the KA house, according to two witnesses. (The residence previously housed the Kappa Alpha fraternity.) Shortly after, SUDPS told the individual who reported the incident that the department had received another similar report and that the gathering would be dispersed shortly. It is unclear what action SUDPS took, if any, and whether the individuals who gathered were affiliated with the University.

In a separate incident, approximately 20 students — many unmasked — gathered at Wilbur Field in the afternoon. Although students were initially separated in smaller groups, they eventually convened at the center of the field, a witness told The Daily. A residence dean intervened later in the afternoon and asked the group to disperse, according to the same individual.

An SUDPS spokesperson declined to comment on the incidents and referred the request to University communications. A University spokesperson did not immediately respond to The Daily’s request for comment.

While The Daily was unable to determine if the individuals at the Wilbur Field gathering were undergraduate or graduate students, convening in groups larger than eight is prohibited under the Campus Compact and by Santa Clara County health directives. The county remains under the state’s regional stay-at-home order, which bars most public and private gatherings outside one’s household.

The prohibited gatherings come amid rising case counts both on the Stanford campus and in Santa Clara County. Last week, the University reported 26 new student COVID-19 cases after reporting a record-breaking 54 student cases the week prior.

Graduate and undergraduate students are subject to different gathering rules. Undergraduate students who arrived on campus before Jan. 10 are not permitted to form household pods — approved groups of up to eight students who can gather without social distancing and wearing masks — until Monday. Graduate students have been able to form households since last Monday.

Three students and residential student staff on campus told The Daily that prohibited outdoor gatherings have occurred frequently over the past two weeks, particularly among frosh. All spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

They said that some students repeatedly flout University COVID-19 policies, with reported violations ranging from graduate students gathering to play basketball unmasked to frosh eating dinner in large groups at Wilbur Field and other green spaces on campus.

The Dean of Students Office is responsible for reviewing Campus Compact violations, and deciding whether to refer a violation to the Compact Review Panel. Despite a substantial number of reported violations in the fall quarter, only a handful made their way to the Compact Review Panel, a group charged with assessing violations and recommending punishment. Most violations were resolved in follow-up conversations with students.

Michael Espinosa contributed reporting.

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Tammer Bagdasarian '24 is a Desk Editor for the Grad Student beat at The Daily, and is planning to major in Communication and Political Science. In his free time he likes to hang out with University Desk Editor Benjamin Zaidel. Contact the news sections at news 'at' stanforddaily.com.
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Cameron Ehsan is a desk editor for the News section and the engagement editor. He is studying biology and American studies. Contact him at cehsan ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.
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Sam Catania ’24 is the Chief Technology Officer at The Daily. He also is the producer of the weekly video roundup and formerly served as a news beat reporter covering COVID-19 on Stanford's campus and the assessment team leader of The Daily's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) team. Sam is a Philadelphia native currently studying computer science and political science. You can follow him on Twitter @sbcatania. Contact him at scatania 'at' stanforddaily.com