BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Disturbing videos shared with the 9News Investigators show wild parties allegedly on or near both major universities in the Baton Rouge area. The videos surfaced online as classes get back in session and coronavirus cases are starting to rise on area campuses.
One of those gatherings was on Southern University’s campus and shows few masks and little social distancing. Experts have said crowds like the ones captured on video could increase the spread of COVID-19 and it’s something school leaders say they’re taking seriously. WAFB’s Scottie Hunter asked a top administrator at Southern about his response to seeing gatherings like that.
“We don’t encourage that,” said F. Clark Walton, vice chancellor for student affairs. “I mean, when we see it, if it’s connected to this campus, we definitely follow up in a broad way. We don’t have a way of knowing who they are or where they are necessarily, but we continue to reinforce that this is a way that spread can happen.”
Administrators on campus tell WAFB they believe this was an isolated incident and they have not seen situations like this since classes picked back up. They also say there are several new guidelines in place to keep the coronavirus under control, including temperature checks and a mask mandate. The method seems to be working for Southern because the school has only reported 49 cases since March and about five since students returned for class a few weeks ago.
The school does have two coronavirus testing locations on campus. Click here for more information and a list of more testing centers throughout the Baton Rouge area.
“One thing that we have done is that we’ve met every Wednesday with administration to ensure that the students are getting their concerns resolved,” said SGA president, Chandler Vidrine.
”We have things in place to make sure that people know how to be safe and that they are safe, but we also have made opportunities available for students to get tested if they feel that they need to be tested,” Walton added.
Walton says the university is also rolling out a student pledge. Part of that includes students taking a vow to not put themselves in unnecessary risky situations. Even with that in place, he says a lot of what they’re able to do to ensure safety depends largely on how seriously students take the threat.
”Young adults do have their free will and they do have their friends and their lives outside of this particular campus, but once again, what we can do is do what we can do as responsible leaders on this campus and that’s to make sure that our students are aware of the expectations and we hope that they adhere to those expectation,” Walton added.
WAFB also got another video that was posted on social media which appears to be a wild house party near LSU. The only things that didn’t seem to make the guest list though were masks and social distancing. While WAFB has not been able to confirm whether everyone in the video is an LSU student, many can be heard shouting the “Neck” chant that the LSU student section is known for yelling at football games.
The video has come out as LSU has also seen its coronavirus cases shoot up dramatically. The school has reported 229 cases among faculty, staff, and students since the beginning of August and 182 of them just in the last week.
Governor John Bel Edwards also weighed in on that surge Tuesday, Sept. 1, calling it concerning.
”I can’t tell you that that number in and of itself shocks me, but it’s something we’re going to keep our eye on very closely,” the governor said.
The university chose not to do an interview on the matter, but did send out guidance Tuesday afternoon saying they would begin hosting weekly coronavirus briefings from top leadership beginning Wednesday, Sept. 2.
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