UT Chancellor Plowman takes fraternities to task, campus changes coming

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — University of Tennessee Chancellor Donde Plowman didn’t mince words Tuesday during her COVID-19 update.

The numbers of students in quarantine and positive cases on campus continues to climb and changes are coming soon according to the second-year chancellor. There are 600 active COVID-19 cases and more than 2,000 people in isolation at UT, according to the numbers released Tuesday.

“We have them to try and slow the spread of the virus so we can remain on campus this fall,” Plowman said.

Calling their actions “reckless” and “disturbing,” Plowman said Greek life organizations, particularly fraternities, have to do a better job of following the coronavirus guidelines.

“I don’t want to pick on any part of our campus and the truth is the vast majority of our community is working hard to do the right thing,” Plowman said. “This is hard. … The fact remains we are having a significant issue with a small number of students.”

Reports of fraternities have made it back to the chancellor about fraternities sharing how to host a party on campus without getting caught, moving parties off campus to avoid guidelines, telling their members to not get tested, and telling members where to get tested so that it won’t be reported back to the university.

One student shared her thoughts, saying she’ll be more cautious, but she thinks its up to individuals to protect themselves and make smart choices.

“You know how serious this is, it’s a world wide thing that’s going on and I just feel like the lack of respect for others and the lack of respect for yourself and to keep yourself safe is what makes it a bigger deal than it already is,” said Damali Brooks

Plowman said she is doubling the university’s contact tracing staff and adding staff to the Student Health Center and Dean of Students office.

She is also asking that any student who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 to get tested.

“If you feel any of that, go to the health center and get a test,” Plowman said.

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