Editorial: Why we can’t report on this week’s outbreak

To the Lafayette Community:

We at The Lafayette newspaper are faced with a conundrum. How do you tell a story that everyone knows, but no one will confirm? This week, social media and all the usual gossip channels were saturated with one story: an on-campus party on the first day of Operational Status Level 1, attended by multiple fraternities and sororities that led to a proliferation of COVID-19 cases.

On Monday, we saw nine new cases, the highest single-day total of the semester. Then on Tuesday, we saw 15 more. But because the college cannot report individuals or organizations associated with cases, we cannot confirm that these events are correlated. We are writing this on Thursday morning; yesterday, there were nine more cases recorded.

We would like to report on these events. On Thursday morning, Vice President Diorio said the new cases “resulted from specific groups and behaviors.” But without corroboration from the school or members of the involved organizations, we can only commend the vast majority of students who have followed the regulations to keep the community safe and condemn those who have not. Diorio also said “the activities of some, but not all, groups or segments of the College may be limited” as a result of violations. We support and encourage this approach.

With a few notable exceptions, every fraternity and sorority president has consistently declined to speak with us or has not responded at all. This is often the case when we cover Greek life, with the exception of philanthropic events. Certainly, not all organizations have been equally culpable in the alleged violations—many have been diligent in following the protocols. But while we do not wish to paint with a broad brush, the lack of transparency around an issue that is, for some students and community members, a matter of life and death, is highly concerning.

We know that many community members will pick up this week’s paper curious to learn more about what has caused the surge in cases on campus. We wish we had more information to share. Our journalistic integrity forbids us from reporting on unconfirmed facts, and we will follow-up next week with a full story on the outbreak.

We implore the community to continue keeping each other safe and to scrutinize the behaviors of those few students who have jeopardized the semester for the rest of the student body.

Stay healthy and stay safe.

Signed,

The Lafayette Editorial Board

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