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11 arrested at house party thrown by banned FSU fraternity

FSU cracks down as universities try to reopen with tough social distancing.

Eleven people were arrested Sunday in connection with a party hosted by a fraternity that was banned by Florida State University for hazing and alcohol violations earlier this year, campus police said.

Police arrested seven students affiliated with Alpha Tau Omega fraternity on charges of hosting an open house party where alcohol was served to minors, the Tallahassee Democrat reported. Four of those arrested were charged with underage possession of alcohol.

The arrests came as FSU and Florida’s entire State University System grapple with keeping students safe as they return to campus during the coronavirus pandemic. Universities throughout the state reopened this week with locally-developed campus safety plans. Authorities are counting on preventing the kinds of mass gathering parties that have become problems at reopened universities in other states.

FSU campus police said in a report that they saw two women leaving the party with drinks around 10:30 p.m. Sunday. Both were over 21 and told officers they’d gotten the drinks inside the fraternity house.

Police shut down the party, and noted there had been numerous large gathering other days last week.

The university found the fraternity responsible for incidents in the spring semester including hazing, physical violence or unwelcome force against a person, possession of alcohol, having alcohol or drugs present at new member activities and failure to comply.

The fraternity did not appeal the university’s decision to dismiss it from campus on Aug. 17, university spokesman Dennis Schnittker told the newspaper.

He noted the health impacts such gatherings can have on the entire campus during the pandemic.

“The vast majority of the students are behaving,” Schnittker said. “But there are small groups of students who college for them is parties instead of education.”

Elsewhere around the country, a handful of universities have opened to in-person classes only to see so many violations of personal distancing rules, and spikes in new COVID-19 cases, that they shut down again.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Michigan State both announced last week that all undergraduate students will be moved to online classes, after a spike in coronavirus cases. The University of Notre Dame also halted in-person instruction for two weeks, following a surge in positive cases.

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Republished with permission from The Associated Press.

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