DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Fifty students at Duke University could face suspension after being caught at a large off-campus party without wearing masks.

Duke University said the party happened somewhere off-campus on Friday night. Durham police broke up the maskless gathering and then notified university officials.

A gathering that size violates Duke University’s standards and state COVID-19 policies.

“Part of those rules stated if you’re going to any gathering, there’s a limit on the size of it,” senior Jake Malone, said of the ‘Duke Compact’ agreement students sign. “There’s an expectation that people who go there are both masked and social distanced to the best of your ability.”

In a letter sent to undergraduate students on Saturday, the University said it will immediately begin contact tracing and testing students who attended.

The letter also states the host of the gathering and possibly those who attended will face the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards.

“With this semester in particular, Duke changed their messaging pretty early on in late January to say ‘cases are high and if they stay high the whole campus will face consequences’,” said Malone. “So I think when they laid out that messaging, everyone did some reflection and decided to take things more seriously. So I think after that, the students who were at this thing over the weekend really deserve to go to conduct and face consequences.”

The university said other students who have been caught for similar violations have lost campus privileges, and in some cases, have been suspended for two semesters.

Below is the full letter sent to Duke University undergraduate students:

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Dear Duke students,

Please be advised that we have been notified by the Durham Police Department about a large gathering in violation of Duke University, local, and state COVID-19 policies and expectations held last night, February 19th, at an off-campus location. The police report indicated that at least 50 unmasked students were in attendance and, consequently, we will immediately begin contact tracing and surveillance testing attendees.

As a reminder, hosting large scale social events—on or off-campus—is considered a flagrant violation of university COVID-19 expectations. Hosts, and in most instances, attendees, of events are referred to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards for further resolution. Other students found responsible this academic year for flagrant violations such as hosting large scale social events and parties have lost campus privileges and/or been issued a two-semester suspension from the university.

Please avoid parties and other large-scale social events and remain committed to Duke University’s COVID-19 policies and expectations.

John Blackshear
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Kyle Cavanaugh
Vice President, Administration, and Emergency Coordinator
Jeanna McCullers
Senior Associate Dean & Director, Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards