The Pitt dean said in a letter that 'a large number' of students are partying, and it's "threatening the fall semester."By Nicole Ford

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – On the first day of classes, University of Pittsburgh leaders are making it clear that actions have consequences. This comes after numerous reports of large parties at the university.

The dean of Pitt says students are holding parties without wearing masks or social distancing, and it’s putting the fall semester at risk.

“Let me be honest. If this isn’t for you and you can’t take on this responsibility, then please go home. Your actions will only be endangering others and you’re not welcome on campus,” Pitt chancellor Patrick Gallagher.

Just Wednesday afternoon, the university announced it’s moving online-only until Sept. 14.

“I don’t know why people want to risk that right now, I don’t think it’s worth it. You could lose a whole fall semester and we just got here,” said freshman Lanie Bainter.

Dean Kenyon Bonner said in a letter that students, parents and community members have alerted him about “a large number of students” throwing and going to parties.

“Let me be clear: Your behavior is threatening a successful fall term for all of us,” Dean Bonner writes.

He points to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which went online-only after a week of classes, and Notre Dame, where classes were canceled after 80 new COVID-19 cases were linked to off-campus parties.

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“Early reports indicate that off-campus house parties and parties hosted by fraternities and sororities played a significant role in spreading the virus,” the dean writes.

He’s warning students that actions have consequences and that no one should hold or attend parties where physical distancing is impossible and face masks aren’t required.

“I have heard there have been some parties by large group houses and yeah that’s just definitely not going to end well,” said Pitt junior Maggie Gallagher.

He also says students shouldn’t socialize with other people not in their “pod” while sheltering in place. Off-campus student pods are made up of others they live with, and on-campus students have been assigned to pods.

“If you are hanging out with friends just keep it low key, small groups. If you want to meet people that’s fine. It’s part of the college experience, but just like wear a mask and keep it small,” Bainter said.

The dean’s letter ends with this: “We have one chance to get this right. So take care of business, start the semester right, and mask up.”

Pitt’s surveillance testing has shown a 0.44 percent prevalence for the virus. Out of 450 asymptomatic students testing, two results came back positive.

“We all need to work together so we can stay here,” said junior Sarah Dapper.

If a student is found violating the University’s Code of Conduct Health and Safety, there will be penalties. For example, if a student hosts a large party, the punishment is disciplinary suspension for the rest of the semester. If a student living in a dorm attends a large party, they would be suspended from housing for the semester.

“I think those rules are important. They may sound harsh, but in the long run, it’s for everyone else. Like, it’s a health crisis that’s killing people,” Gallagher said.

The university set up a system to report any Pitt-affiliated person for not following these guidelines. A report about a COVID-related concern can be filed at online or on the university’s website.

A conduct referral on a student violating Pitt’s guidelines can be filed here or the “Public Health and Safety Conduct Referral” form can be found on the home page for Student Affairs.