SEATTLE - The University of Washington has launched an investigation into a massive party involving hundreds of maskless students last Saturday in an off-campus alleyway.
The party took place just days after UW announced the highly contagious UK variant of COVID-19 was detected on campus. UW says the behavior is deeply disappointing and reckless, and they plan to hold students and Greek organizations involved accountable.
The large party isn’t just alarming to people connected to UW. It has many parents with kids away at college during the pandemic, hoping more than ever their kid is making good choices. Remnants of a college rager at UW, a scene that has parents on edge more than ever.
"It’s hard to trust students, they’re 18! Like I keep saying we have to trust them, but they're kids and they’re going to make mistakes," says Jamie Fabela.
Fabela is going through the strange experience of having her daughter go off to college during a pandemic. Her daughter has asthma and a history of long-term pneumonia, making their decision as parents very difficult.
"She still really wanted to be a part of the whole living on campus, and it was hard because it is a risk," she said.
The mother said her daughter is very safe and health-conscious, but her living in a dorm can still be worrisome, especially when considering roommates. When Fabela heard about a UW party with hundreds of maskless students, she said if her daughter were to ever attend an event like that, "I would be extremely disappointed, and scared."
"At that party, there was no social distancing at all, they're all packed like sardines," says UW student Jeriko Lese.
Lese is a UW student who said images from last Saturday’s party were shocking.
"I saw no masks whatsoever," said Lese.
He feels the actions of the hundreds of students in attendance at the party aren’t only selfish, but also gives the university a bad reputation when most students have kept to themselves.
Lese moved on campus in January, hoping for a glimpse of a college experience he’d dreamt of.
"I had that mentality that college was going to be fun, I’d get to meet new people, I’d get to explore the campus, live the city life," he said.
But Lese said the reality is if you follow the rules, living on campus is pretty boring and lonely. He said students are mostly hunkered down in their dorms all day while taking online classes.
For now, UW is still allowing students to live on campus. They say it’s a safer option for many students. And while more kids are back in the dorms, most classes are still only online.
UW Vice President of Student Life Denzil Suite released an open letter on the university website, expressing his disappointment and saying that if this happens again, the university could reevaluate its relationship with the greek chapters at UW.