Theta Chi party leads to COVID-19 cluster


Photo courtesy of Theta Chi at UNH Facebook

Hannah Donahue

The University of New Hampshire (UNH) has reported its first coronavirus (COVID-19) cluster on its Durham Campus. 

A COVID-19 cluster is a single location with three or more confirmed cases.  

Eleven positive cases of COVID-19 were discovered as a result of a Saturday, Aug. 29 party at the university-affiliated Theta Chi fraternity.  

“As the result of a party of more than 100 people not wearing masks Saturday, Aug. 29, there are 11 positive cases, including members of the UNH community, confirmed,” according to an email to students from UNH Police Chief Paul Dean. 

All members of the fraternity are currently in a 14-day quarantine.  

The university is asking any guests of the party to immediately quarantine and contact UNH Health and Wellness. The Office of Community Standards is taking the fraternity through the student conduct judicial proceedings as a result of its COVID-19 policy violations.  

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS) has worked in conjunction with UNH to identify 11 cases of COVID-19 and provided testing information for students and community members who attended the party.  

UNH President James W. Dean Jr. released a statement condemning both the gathering and the students involved. 

“This is reckless behavior and the kind of behavior that undermines our planning and will lead to us switching to a fully remote mode,” said President Dean. 

An investigation with the Interfraternity Council was opened and the university is pursuing conduct charges against the organizers of the gathering, as well as every student who attended.  

“Theta Chi is under interim suspension immediately, as well any fraternity/sorority or other organization that behaves in a similar manner, while we conduct the investigation.” 

Dean announced a moratorium of any gathering of any size from any of these groups.  

After the announcement from University Police Chief Paul Dean regarding the gathering, students expressed frustration over the fraternity’s actions. 

A video encouraging students to join the fraternity, captioned “Big things to come join Fall 2020,” was posted to the @thetachiunh Instagram page on Sept. 4, with many students expressing their anger and discontent at the fraternity in the comment section. 

Theta Chi has not responded for comment to The New Hampshire.  

As of the university’s latest report on Sept. 2, the Durham campus has 44 active cases of COVID-19. 

The university will begin distributing a second round of self-swab kits to students on Tuesday, Sept. 8. Students must reserve a time between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. between Tuesday, Sept. 8 and Saturday, Sept. 12 at the Whittemore Center.  

Students are urged to continue to maintain a six-foot physical distance from others and limit close contacts as much as possible.