As the fall semester moves through its first month, 5C administrators are reevaluating their initial guidelines regarding COVID-19 protocols and limits for social gatherings.
The Student Deans Committee, deans of students and student activities staff of the 5Cs were scheduled to meet this week to collaborate on updates and guidelines related to cross-campus events and programs, Claremont McKenna College Dean of Students Dianna Graves CM ’98 said via email.
At the beginning of the semester, the 5Cs indicated that Sept. 20 would mark the start of multi-campus events and parties — with the annual club fair on Sept. 21 being the first.
But Pitzer College spokesperson Kim Shiner said via email that each college will continue their current policies until at least early October.
“Community health and safety continues to remain our priority. This includes guidelines for students to engage safely in community,” Shiner said. “Updates regarding any changes to current policies will be provided as soon as possible.”
On Sept. 8, Harvey Mudd College Dean of Students Marco Antonio Valenzuela sent an email reminding Mudders that they “may not attend parties or events at any of the other 5Cs until further notice.” Gatherings for religious groups, intervarsity sports, and clubs were still permitted as long as students were masked, according to the email.
“This past weekend we were made aware of unsanctioned gatherings that took place on campus. We ask that if you took part in these unsanctioned gatherings, to self-report,” Valenzuela said.
Valenzuela said these social gatherings were an “egregious violation” of the guidelines in place at Mudd.
“After the first egregious violation, the student’s family/emergency contact will be called and the student will be placed on disciplinary probation, which may entail a loss of social privileges for the length of the sanction, as well as appropriate educational assignments,” he said.
After a second violation, he said, students would be placed on an involuntary leave of absence where they would be withdrawn from classes and removed from campus housing for the rest of the 2021-22 school year.
Valenzuela didn’t respond to a request for comment.
“At the very beginning of the semester there were a couple parties on campus that were concerningly large, but we later learned that there were actually a lot of non-Mudders who attended,” Mavis Stone HM ’23 said via email.
According to Stone, dorm presidents and residence life proctors patrolled the party and directed students back to their home campuses.
On HMC’s campus, Stone said, there are QR codes setup in all courtyards and lounges that students must scan when using the space to make contact tracing easier.
“I think we’ve been doing a good job of scanning the QR code,” she said. “I think we’ve generally been doing a good job of masking both inside and outside, but a lot of people tend to forget about masking when it comes to partying.”
Stone said that under current policies, students may go off-campus in groups no bigger than 10, and clubs are barred from eating off-campus together.
Additionally, Stone said that the student response to Valenzuela’s email has not been negative from her perspective.
“If people are intentionally or knowingly violating COVID safety policies, then they should know fully well that they’re possibly putting other people’s health at risk.”—Mavis Stone
“If people are intentionally or knowingly violating COVID safety policies, then they should know fully well that they’re possibly putting other people’s health at risk,” she said. “I will say that having someone live off-campus after they’ve violated safety guidelines doesn’t seem like the right solution, since Mudders spend the majority of their time on-campus.”
At Pitzer College, depending on the nature of the gathering, the college may give a one-time, in-person warning and ask the gathering to disperse, or they may document the situation and follow-up with the hosts with a reminder of the policies or a conduct hearing, Shiner said via email.
“Earlier in the semester we were giving out more friendly reminders and verbal warnings, however, for hosts or suites that have had multiple referrals, we are considering conduct referral with potential sanctions,” she said. “Students found responsible through our conduct process may be assigned both disciplinary and educational or restorative sanctions.”
Shiner said that Pitzer students may host gatherings where 5C students are allowed, so long as all students follow the Pitzer guidelines, including registering events through campus life. Other policies include masking at outdoor events with more than 30 people and requiring event check-in to improve contact tracing.
Pitzer will hire campus safety officers for large events to help monitor activity and have events staff present to help with correct implementation of protocols, Shiner added. The college will also facilitate event registrant training to ensure students hosting events understand expectations and have community care assistants on hand to support students with the resources needed to be safe at events.
“The Campus Life professional staff are a resource for all students that want to put on events and will be holding students accountable for enforcing the college’s protocols,” she said.
At CMC, students must use the established event registration process for all events, which has been modified to include elements related to COVID-19 guidelines this semester.
In an email to students prior to the first weekend of the semester, Graves encouraged students to have “small, controlled” gatherings.
“It’s hard to put concrete numbers on the size of a gathering since it has a lot to do with the venue, density of the activity, and nature of the activity. Generally speaking, 20 or fewer people is acceptable,” she said.
Graves added that it is common for events to start out this size, but when students play music outside, it attracts more students and events tend to grow to the size where they need to be shut down.
She said that when events become too large, public safety, on-call deans and resident assistants are called to disperse the group. If the event is too large and attendees do not comply, then campus security will be called to shut the event down. 5C students are asked to return to their home campus and will be reported to their dean of students offices if they refuse.
Scripps College’s office of student engagement will release more information on event guidelines in the coming weeks after the student deans committee meets the week of Sept. 20 to “discuss cross-campus decisions.”
“Community safety remains a priority and local and state health and safety guidance continues to evolve,” Scripps College Interim Dean Adriana di Bartolo-Beckman said via email.
Pomona College will continue to prohibit events that combine internal and external guests — visitors from outside the 7Cs — until Sept. 24, the college’s website states.
According to Dean of Students Avis Hinkson, Pomona planned to communicate all new information about protocols to their student body after the student deans committee, deans of students, and student activities staff met.
But as the week comes and goes, students are confused on whether the guidelines for events, specifically 5C ones, are changing.
“I feel like we were told we would hear updates but we have not,” Ella Moriarty PO ’25 said.