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UT Chancellor "won't hesitate" to expel irresponsible students after house party caused COVID-19 cluster

Plowman said a cluster of COVID-19 cases happened off-campus at a house party last Tuesday, saying the university not hesitate to expel those acting irresponsibly.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — University of Tennessee Chancellor Donde Plowman laid down the law Tuesday during her bi-weekly COVID-19 campus briefing, saying expulsion will be in the cards for students or others in the community in danger to COVID-19 by acting irresponsibly.

"We know who lives there, and will hold you responsible and we could expel you," Plowman said as she addressed a recent cluster of COVID-19 cases spread from an off-campus house party on Laurel Avenue last Tuesday. “I will not hesitate to do that if students are irresponsible.“  

Plowman said students need to act with compassion and consideration for others, and absolutely must follow all precautions for social distancing -- praising freshman in particular for being especially cooperative.

However, following house parties -- which have been specifically identified by health officials as a public health risk due to large groups of people being in close quarters with a high probability of someone spreading COVID-19 to many in attendance -- Plowman said some have not been as cooperative and refused to cooperate with contact tracing or filling out self-isolation forms after being exposed.

“I was on the front porch [of a home] after one of those parties," she said, saying she went into the Fort Sanders neighborhood with UT Police and others after receiving reports of house parties in the area.

Plowman said she will hold party hosts accountable. Those whose that refuse to cooperate, either with not holding parties or those who refuse to cooperate with self-isolation or contact tracing, would face the possibility of immediate expulsion for putting others at risk.

UT Chancellor Donde Plowman gives COVID-19 update after 75 cases reported among students and staff | August 18, 2020

UT Chancellor Donde Plowman gives COVID-19 update after 75 cases reported among students and staff | August 18, 2020

Posted by WBIR Channel 10 on Tuesday, August 18, 2020

"If we want a football season we have to all work at this," she said. 

UT is currently tracking and updating COVID-19 statistics on campus on its website. As of August 18, the university reported that there are 75 active cases among students and staff. 66 of those are students and 9 of those are staff members.