In Britain, the police in recent days issued a fine of 10,000 pounds (about $12,800) to a university student who had organized a party of more than 50 people at his off-campus housing. The fine — the maximum penalty possible for violating the country’s 30-person limit on gatherings — came as England and Wales prepared to sharply reduce the size of permitted gatherings to just six people, starting Monday.
In the United States, six Miami University students in a house near the campus in Oxford, Ohio, received citations with fines of $500 each over Labor Day weekend when they were found hosting a party at which many students present had tested positive for the virus.
Penalties for attending unlawful gatherings have been frequent, with 11 Northeastern University students dismissed for violating public health rules and hundreds of students at Ohio State University suspended, in addition to suspensions at Purdue University, Syracuse University and New York University.
Some institutions acknowledged that there would be little point in trying to clamp down on parties altogether. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a comprehensive plan to keep the virus under control factored into its model that the school’s more than 7,000 students would attend parties three times a week. What it did not calculate was that some would attend gatherings after testing positive.
Yet many are taking the virus restrictions seriously. Oxford University and other colleges have experimented with asking students to sign “responsibility agreements,” and Yale University set up hotlines for reports of risky activity.
Though many students have said the idea of blowing the whistle on their classmates makes them uncomfortable, more than 4,000 people signed a petition started by students to revoke the admission of a first-year student at Cornell University after she posted a video from a party mocking safety precautions.
Reporting was contributed by Christopher Cameron, Damien Cave, Abdi Latif Dahir, Tess Felder, Lazaro Gamio, Abby Goodnough, Lara Jakes, Lisa Waananen Jones, Isabel Kershner, Sarah Kliff, Dan Levin, Eric Nagourney, Dan Powell, Roni Caryn Rabin, Anna Schaverien, Mitch Smith, Kate Taylor, Katie Thomas, Pranshu Verma, Amy Schoenfeld Walker and Will Wright.