Editorial: After the Wood party, the next few days are critical

Editorial Board

Somewhere between 80 and 100 students demonstrated their disregard for the health of our community on Friday night. As President Maud S. Mandel noted in an email to students the following day, these students converged on Wood House for a party with little masking and less distancing. “This report is deeply disappointing to me,” Mandel wrote.

To us too.

We as a College community must work over the next few days to make sure this event does not become a catastrophe. Although there has only been one case on campus in the last seven days, we must exercise caution in the coming days. It will be Wednesday or later before anyone will know whether the party at Wood House spread the virus. In the interim, the actions of the College and its students will determine the severity of the consequences for the community.

With this in mind, we ask professors to conduct any in-person class sessions remotely during this period. We understand that this requires significant flexibility on the part of College faculty, but it is a sacrifice worth making to protect the health and well-being of our community.

In-person athletic practices also carry risk of transmission. As such, the College administration should suspend these practices until we know more about the potential spread of COVID at Friday’s party. 

To any attendees of the Wood party who may be reading this: Come forward to the Dean’s Office. Please self-quarantine. Stay away from anyone outside your pod. If your classes remain in person, attend them remotely. Do not dine indoors at Spring St. restaurants. If you are an athlete, do not go to practice.

The grave mistake of attending a potential superspreader event comes with a responsibility to minimize the harm that could result from it. Moreover, the consequences that the Wood party could hold for the College and the surrounding community are still up in the air. For now, no one on this campus has more power to shape these consequences than the students who were there. It is not just the threat of disciplinary action that should drive students’ decisions to do so. The sooner the administration knows who was in attendance, the more easily it can assess which students to quarantine and how best to proceed with the semester.

The party at Wood, though particularly egregious, was far from the first event held on this campus that broke the College’s public health policies. But it is the most dangerous of such events that we know about, and it should be a wake-up call for all of us. 

As the Record’s news section reports on the party in Wood House and its consequences, the editorial board will continue to reflect, in a forthcoming editorial, on what next steps the College and community should take. We take the unusual step of publishing an editorial now, rather than with our weekly issue on Wednesday, in recognition of the extraordinary risks that our community is facing. 

The College needs to act now. And the students who attended the party need to do the right thing. 

Those with information about the Wood party are encouraged to contact the Record through its anonymous tip form or by emailing [email protected]. The Record will grant full anonymity to any party attendee who speaks with us.

This editorial represents the opinion of the majority of the Record editorial board.