Following last month’s COVID-19 spike at the University of Maryland, Patty Perillo, student affairs vice president, answered SGA representatives’ questions regarding their concerns with the university’s COVID-19 guidelines at its weekly meeting Wednesday night.
The representatives asked Perillo a variety of questions about the university’s plan to respond to students who violate COVID-19 restrictions — specifically those affiliated with Greek life who live off-campus.
Kislay Parashar, speaker of the legislature, said the student body should abide by the coronavirus restrictions. He said that students should “stop with all those parties” and “restrain themselves from going out and doing all these extra things that they don’t exactly have to.”
Sophie Minsk, Greek life residential representative, added that violations are specifically difficult to deal with for students that are abiding by COVID-19 guidelines because they feel they’re being punished for the actions of others who aren’t following the rules.
She stressed the importance of the administration holding students accountable in order for the restrictions to be taken seriously.
“There needs to be some sort of suspensions. I don’t know what to do besides working with the university,” Minsk said. “We just need a higher voice saying, ‘No, stop doing this.’”
Currently, the university is determining specific punishments for violating guidelines and rules based on each case. Punishment includes fines, loss of resident privileges, suspension and expulsion.
Perillo explained that it is difficult for the university to hold students accountable and respond to the issue when they are unaware of the noncompliance of students off-campus. She noted that the administration uses student leaders to serve as examples and keep the students abiding by the guidelines in place.
“I think that the best that we can do is continue to encourage students to hold their friends accountable,” Perillo said.
Yet, Minsk claims it is difficult for students to report others for fear of getting their friends or organizations in trouble.
“The current system of how to report these students [who violate COVID regulations] by having their friends take pictures and send that to OSC is not really working out too great,” Minsk said. “Students don’t want to get their friends in trouble.”
Minsk suggested that the only way for students living off-campus to comply with guidelines is by increasing the police presence in these communities. Although she doesn’t want College Park to have police roaming everywhere, there needs to be something done, she said.
Perillo said she disagrees with the idea to increase police presence in the area and is not willing to do so.
In the end, she said that the punishments are not about singling students out. Students are part of a larger group, and everyone needs to be doing their part.
“I’m gonna be clear, this is not about fighting students or holding students responsible for all of it,” Perillo said. “It is a shared responsibility.”