8/20/2020, Circle Pines 2

Circle Pines Cooperative had two members test positive for COVID-19 as of last week, which marked it as the third confirmed congregate house at Purdue with positive cases. 

Two members of Circle Pines Cooperative have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday afternoon, according to an adviser, marking it as the third confirmed house within Fraternities, Sororities and Cooperative Life in quarantine.

David Tate, an adviser at Circle Pines, said the first member tested positive on Friday, and the co-op immediately informed the Protect Purdue Implementation Team.

Tate said the student was granted permission on Friday to return home for isolation by Dr. Esteban Ramirez, chief medical officer for the Protect Purdue Health Center.

The University sent a clinical team to the house to test the rest of the 61 members Monday morning, Tate said. Many received their results on Wednesday, with one additional positive test result that morning.

The entire house is under quarantine, which is in effect until Sept. 7.

“The way this works is from the time we were told we were positive, that quarantine extends 14 days,” Tate said. “Because (there was a positive result) when they tested us on Monday, that clock starts all over again.”

Tate said that while he appreciates the University’s big-picture plans for implementing house-wide quarantines, he worries it hasn’t considered the smaller details of the process, like how to feed the affected students.

Members of the co-op typically split cooking and cleaning duties among themselves, but in quarantine Tate said this isn’t possible.

“Did the University and Fraternity Sorority and Cooperative Life really sit down and go, ‘If you’re quarantined, how will you eat?’” Tate asked.

He said the co-op is still working out how to feed its members. Pre-packaged meals are being delivered to each room in the house in the interim.

Tate said he’s also concerned about how the members’ studies will fare during their quarantine time.

“It’s unfortunate that we’re adding all this stress to these young people when the biggest thing that should be talked about is getting their education,” he said.

Members are not permitted to leave the building for two weeks, which Tate worries will cause them to fall behind in their classes.

“The University says the instructor cannot penalize a student for not being in class because they’re in quarantine,” he said. “I just want to make sure that happens. My concern is some people are going to be less cooperative than others.”

University reassesses suspensions

Nearly all of the suspensions ordered for members of the Circle Pines Cooperative house last week have since been lifted.

Circle Pines adviser David Tate said what began as a noise violation Wednesday night resulted in all members inside the house being told they were suspended, regardless of whether they took part in the gathering at the house the noise stemmed from.

“I got a phone call asking if I could come in, and (members) explained to me that there was evidently a noise violation,” he said, “It was a very small gathering, it wasn’t an orchestrated party or anything like that. There wasn’t a lot of noise.”

Tate said that immediately after the police arrived, representatives from the IFSC and the Office of the Dean of Students came to the Circle Pines house, requesting over its intercom that all members in the house meet in the dining room.

This led to a misunderstanding, Tate said, in which administrators thought unmasked students who walked into the living room had participated in the gathering. Only a fraction of students were initially gathered without masks, he said.

“So if you’re in this environment and someone says, ‘Hey, come to the living room,’ you’re going to just walk out without your mask,” he said. “Nobody would think about that. And it’s true: They were gathering together (in the living room) and they weren’t wearing masks.”

All members in the house were subsequently told they were summarily suspended from the University.

The students were given five days to appeal the suspensions, which they did. Since then, Tate said, all but two of the students, the president and vice president of the cooperative, have had their suspensions lifted. They have been placed under probationary status for the semester, according to Tate.

Tate confirmed there were students in the house who weren’t members of the co-op, but said he didn’t think any of them were suspended.

“I don’t know all the names,” he said, “but there was a female freshman (who) was not there but somehow her name appeared on some list and someone said that she was there. And somehow she was tracked down to her residence hall, told to surrender her key and was told she was suspended.”

“The University is processing the appeals of the summary suspensions expeditiously,” Purdue spokesperson Tim Doty said in an email Wednesday afternoon.

“Each case will be resolved in a manner that meets the objectives of protecting the health and safety of the campus community and educating students on how to effectively adhere to the Protect Purdue Pledge.” The Exponent reached out to Doty regarding questions on how Purdue decided who at Circle Pines would be suspended, and did not receive a response by Wednesday night.

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