WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- The president of Williams College is calling on the people responsible for a maskless party to come forward and take responsibility for the incident.
In a letter to the college community on Saturday, President Maud Mandel reported that between 80 and 100 people participated in the party at Wood House, a residence hall at the corner of South Street and Main Street.
"When Campus Safety arrived on scene, the attendees fled," Mandel wrote. "CSS noted that many people at the party were either completely without masks or were wearing them around their necks, on their wrists, etc. As you can imagine, the crowd was tightly packed in such a small space."
The school's Campus Safety and Security is investigating the party, which ran afoul of the college's COVID-19 protocols.
Mandel called the incident "deeply disappointing" and said that, as a result, she is postponing a previously announced plan to move the college to Phase 2 of its spring semester plan.
"Specifically, we will not allow indoor socializing with non-podmates, requests for pod mergers, or athletic transportation, since it entails non-podmates traveling together in vans," she wrote, explaining the activities that would have been allowed starting Monday.
Instead, she wrote, the college tentatively plans to enter Phase 2 on March 15 if the college sees no "evidence of viral spread," Mandel said.
"I understand that students are tired of COVID preventing them from interacting with friends and peers," Mandel wrote. "My own friends and relatives and I all feel impatient to see each other, too. If you are feeling exhausted or just need to connect with someone, I encourage you to turn to some of the many safe options available to you, including Integrative Wellbeing, the Dean’s office and the Davis Center, the chaplains, various physical and creative outlets and student groups.
"What we may not do in those circumstances is make choices that put people around us in danger."
Mandel said parties like the one that took place on Friday night have been "superspreader events at other schools."
Mandel wrote that those who planned and/or participated in the party need to "come forward and live up to your responsibility." If they do, they will be asked to finish the semester remotely.
"That information may prompt some of you to consider not owning up," Mandel wrote. "So I will also note that CSS is conducting its standard investigation of the incident. Anyone who has not come forward voluntarily by the end of that investigation, and who is later determined to have organized or attended the party, will also be transitioned to remote learning and will additionally be subject to our full conduct process. That process may very well lead to disciplinary consequences, up to and including suspension."
Mandel noted that the college had the confidence to return to in-person instruction in the fall, in part, because students were required to sign a pledge that they would adhere to the COVID-19 protocols while on campus.
"Last night’s gathering undermined that confidence," Mandel wrote. "If you were involved, I want you to step up and restore our faith in Williams’ ability to safely offer an in-person education."
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White Withdraws From Williamstown Select Board Race
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Nicholls "Niko" White has removed himself as a candidate for the Select Board.
White had to run for the last year of the term being vacated by Jeffrey Thomas and had gained enough signatures to be placed on the ballot for the annual town election. White said he had announced to run for office when no other candidates had stepped forward and it appeared that the elected office would be uncontested or lack a strong progressive candidate.
But as of last week, it had turned into a four-way race.
"I decided to campaign to make sure my positions were represented in the field," White said in announcing his witgdrawal from the race last week. "And now we have an embarrassment of riches in that regard. If we had ranked choice voting or another alternative to first-past-the-post, I'd view my candidacy as an asset regardless. So many folks have told me they're glad I'm running, and were eager to turn out for me. Unfortunately, we do use first-past-the-post here, which means I have to worry that by staying in the race, I will instead split the progressive vote at a critical time. I'm not willing to risk that."
Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday urged Bay State residents currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations to find appointments before eligibility opens up to everyone 16 and older later this month. click for more