Artist's rendering of the novel coronavirus. - Image from Pixabay

According to Rowan University’s official weekly confirmed positive COVID-19 cases web page, on-campus student cases of the novel coronavirus have increased from 4, as reported between Aug. 25 to 29, to 39 additional cases during the week of Aug. 30 to Sept. 5. This brings the total number of on-campus cases to 43. These 43 cases account for about 1% of the 4,400 students living in on-campus housing this year.

Moreover, off-campus cases have increased from 6 to 44. This totals 50 off-campus cases over the two weeks. No data has been shared on whether these students reside in Glassboro with other students, but Rowan’s web page notes that the on-campus numbers “reflect people who were on campus for any reason during their infectious period, including three days prior to showing symptoms.”

93 total positive cases have been reported since move-in began on Aug. 25. Between March 15 and then, before students began to transition back to on-campus living and in-person learning, there had been 50 total positive cases.

On-Campus Cases (Glassboro)Off-Campus Cases (Glassboro)
8/25-2946
8/30-9/53944
Total4350

Earlier in the week, fliers signed by Dean of Students Kevin Koett were distributed to dorm rooms instructing students to call the campus non-emergency number, 856-256-4922, to report any large gatherings of students that may result in virus transmission. One residential student, who wished to be unnamed to protect them from potential retaliation, called this number on Friday to report a large party at an off-campus house near the Ellis St. parking lot. He says that the dispatcher dismissed his concerns.

“They basically told me they couldn’t do anything since it was off-campus,” the student said. “I don’t want to get sent home and hope to get into lab classes in a couple of weeks.”

He added that he believed the party was being hosted by members of a university-recognized fraternity.

According to the university’s Greek Affairs Handbook, “Rowan University DOES NOT recognize the dwellings of members of Greek Organizations as ‘Official Fraternity/Sorority Houses.'” This rule effectively distances the university from the actions of members of its Greek organizations and shifts responsibility for preventing off-campus parties onto Glassboro Township.

Meanwhile, Indiana University and University of Kentucky have found that rates of positive cases within Greek life are as much as 200% higher than those of the general student population. Also this week, 11 students attending Northeastern University were suspended for the entire fall semester after having been found to have been gathering at an off-campus hotel.

No data has been published on the rate of positive cases among the Greek student population in comparison to non-Greek students.

Koett did not respond to multiple email requests for clarification regarding disciplinary actions for Rowan students found to be engaging in high-risk off-campus gatherings.

Currently, no university employees either on-campus or off-campus have reported positive cases of COVID-19 since the return to campus began, nor have any cases among students been reported at Cooper Medical School or RowanSOM since then.

“Following medical protocols, we will continue to inform people in the Rowan community who were in close contact with the infected individuals before and as they started showing symptoms,” the university web page reads. “Although the risk of infection is low for those beyond the individuals’ inner circles, we will continue to inform others (e.g., roommates, close personal contacts) and ask that they isolate themselves for up to 14 days, depending on the level of exposure.”

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