Despite its size, DePauw has consistently ranked among the top party schools in the nation. But with COVID-19 restrictions in place all semester, DePauw students have been forced to reimagine the “work hard, play hard” campus experience.
Outside of Greek organizations, the university attempted to host a number of events for students to socialize at such as the Beer Garden and Spring Carnival.
DePauw Student Government (DSG) President, junior D’Angelo McDade, was glad to see students once again socializing amidst the Spring Carnival.
“I am excited about things like the spring carnival that had over 600 students out. Being able to see my fellow students and watching as we embraced a sense of normalcy was not only heart warming but was much past due,” McDade said.
However, many students expressed disappointment in the way these events were offered.
Senior Trevor Hoftiezer attended the Beer Garden earlier this semester, but soon realized that no one else was participating.
“The DePauw administration failed to adequately provide students with opportunities to socialize in ways that they were interested in. This promoted students to either go socialize off campus, breaking DePauw's COVID-19 bubble, or to attend Greek events,” Hoftiezer said. “This caught Greek organizations in a catch-22 in which there was a historical and present expectation that they would provide social opportunities despite the university's COVID-19 policies.”
Among McDade’s goals this semester were increasing collaboration and advocacy among Greek organizations and student groups, as well as maintaining transparency with the University. However, McDade also acknowledges the difficulties in carrying out those goals.
“The University lacks the desire of a share-governance structure when it comes to work toward decisions … this has affected the student experience at DePauw,” McDade said.
With few other bars available in Greencastle, many students turned to Moore’s Bar & Restaurant to socialize. Moore’s recently changed their capacity limitations as Indiana COVID-19 restrictions loosened.
Senior Arham Azeem often attended Moore’s in place of Wells given the loosened restrictions.
“The semester started off pretty strict, but now I’ve seen many of my friends posting pictures at fraternities and bars,” Azeem said.
Starting April 16, soon after its first vaccination clinic, the university loosened guidelines for larger student or university sponsored events to take place. According to DePauw’s website, student organizations were required to register their event through Campus Labs and submit a safety plan for review if the event had more than 50 people in attendance or required reservation of a university space.
Greek houses like fraternity Phi Kappa Psi and sorority Alpha Chi Omega took advantage of this opportunity to hold outdoor events for their houses.
Junior Henry Locke, member of Phi Kappa Psi, said the university was very easy to work with in planning and executing their April 24 event and provided them with rules to have as much fun as possible while continuing to stay safe.
“It felt good to be back to normal,” Locke said. “This is very encouraging as I begin to look toward my senior year. I hope COVID-19 becomes a minimal focus since everyone will be vaccinated upon return to campus.”
Alpha Chi Omega was able to hold their spring formal in compliance with University guidelines at the Campus Farm on April 30.
Led by Junior Colleen Janes, planning the event helped bring the chapter a “sense of normalcy.”
“It was a great sisterhood event,” Janes said. “It was one of the first times our house has been able to gather all together since the pandemic.”
Students Push Back
Despite university accommodations, over 50% of students in a poll on The DePauw’s Instagram said they still attended Greek social events, while roughly 40% engaged with Campus Activities or went off campus.
Whether on or off campus, 74% of students reported that they did not follow DePauw’s COVID-19 guidelines, according to the poll.
Junior Angelika Yeghiazarian said she frequently socialized at a fraternity house on campus with no mask.
“I just walked right past the cameras and pretended like there were no rules and I never got in trouble,” Yeghiazarian said.
However, not all students felt comfortable socializing on campus. To avoid the university’s restrictions, junior Lizzie Bell traveled to Indianapolis on some weekends with other DePauw students to take advantage of the off-campus freedom.
Bell said a big part of her decision to leave campus was due to the tight visitor policy.
“A lot of people I know chose to live in Indy this semester due to the social atmosphere on campus,” Bell said. “So I’d go there and attend their house parties or go to bars with those of us who are 21.”
Despite the varied regard for COVID-19 guidelines, only 5% of commuter and on-campus students tested positive for COVID-19 all semester, with zero reported cases in the last two weeks and vaccination rates continuing to rise.
All students will be required to be vaccinated when returning in the Fall semester, providing hope for a greater return to normalcy. Though DePauw cannot predict what will happen with COVID-19 in the Fall, student life is expected to return to a more typical, pre-pandemic existence, though masks will likely continue to be used.