By Naomi Feinstein and Jesse Lieberman
The University of Miami is once again making a name for itself on the popular social media app Tik Tok as it officially welcomed students back to campus for the fall. In a new video posted on Tik Tok, UM freshmen are caught on camera partying in a room at one of the residential colleges on campus, which openly violates social distancing guidelines by the university.
In the video, posted under the account @catbettridge27, which has since been deleted, a UM freshman says, “We can only have four people in our dorm room,” and then proceeds to pan the camera to show a crowded dorm room full of students, in spite of the administration announcing students face suspension and disciplinary action over failures to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines. The video is one of multiple social media posts that have shown UM students partying in close confines.
The video has since been reposted by other UM students in other viral videos, including senior Sean Merlin, who is condemning the students over their actions. Merlin’s video to date has received half a million views.
Prior to arriving on campus, students received an email from the university forbidding large gatherings and house parties.
“At this time, events like house parties, large dinners at restaurants, and other similar events simply cannot happen,” the email read. “Any student not following the University’s stated policies and guidelines will face serious conduct action including the removal of privileges to come to campus and suspension from the University.”
Despite these warnings, students are continuing to gather in large numbers in their dorm rooms, which is evident in the now-viral Tik Tok. Last week, several ambulances were seen outside residential buildings escorting students to the hospital. Students also reported multiple off-campus parties including one hosted by a UM fraternity.
During a media roundtable last week, President Julio Frenk addressed the policy violations that had already begun as students arrived back to Miami.
“This is a moment where we are all being called to make sacrifices,” Frenk said. “I am worried about what happens off campus.” Frenk, a renowned public health expert who served as the Minister of Health of Mexico and previously was an executive director at the World Health Organization, said the university is committed to being very tough on students who choose to violate Covid-19 policies.
Some students expressed a similar sentiment, calling for perpetrators to be held accountable for their actions in violation of the public safety guidelines.
“Personally, all of these behaviors are making me very disappointed to be at the same school as them, people are being so reckless and stupid right now and we just got here,” UM sophomore Caroline Baum said. “We’re all adults here and need to be responsible for our own actions, students should be able to follow simple rules.”
However, some professors as part of the University of Miami American Association of University Professors — Employee Alliance feel the current environment is not adequate for face-to-face learning. Thus, they worry the students will be blamed if there were to be a coronavirus outbreak on campus.
“I worry that if there is a campus outbreak, students will be blamed. But the university is creating the conditions for this by going F2F this semester,” said associate professor Scot Evans, president of the AAUP on campus and faculty senate member. “The campus is reopening without adequate testing for all of the UM community, and when things get bad, they will fault students for a lack of personal responsibility.”
Evans urges the students to follow social distancing for campus to stay open as he said the faculty did not have a say about holding face-to-face instruction.
As the coronavirus cases continued to rise in South Florida, other schools, such as Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the fourth-largest district in the nation, decided to begin the school year with remote learning. However, UM elected to bring students back to campus for a mixed hybrid approach.
Merlin declined immediate comment.
Jesse Lieberman contributed to this story. Jared Lennon and Anna Timmons contributed to the reporting of this story.