As COVID-19 cases spike, Georgia College warns parties could bring suspensions



President tells students: 'Your individual decisions will have a tremendous impact on our entire community'

Today, Steve M. Dorman, the president of Georgia College in Milledgeville, sent a strong message to students in the wake of a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases. He cautioned they could face consequences, including suspension, if they attend house parties or other large gatherings that could spread the virus.

Today, the college reported 69 new COVID cases among students, bringing the total to 150 new student cases since the last time it was reported on Friday afternoon, according to a spokesman.

The college, which last year enrolled about 7,000 students, has recorded a total of 373 cases since it began keeping track in mid-June. Georgia College is one of the few University System of Georgia institutions to post daily numbers on how many students and employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

Georgia Tech, which is the most diligent public campus on student testing, reported 51 positive cases on Sunday and 48 today. Nine Georgia Tech sorority and fraternity houses are limiting access to their premises to residents only due to COVID, according to the school. Tech is also now asking first-year students to undergo campus saliva testing.

Here is the Georgia College president’s letter:

Dear Bobcats,

As we begin a new week, I want to thank those students who are wearing their face coverings and practicing social distancing on campus. Let’s stay disciplined and continue to do this consistently and diligently.

The same discipline must to be applied off campus. It is extremely important.

I am asking everyone to adapt your personal activities and refrain from attending house parties and large off-campus gatherings. Your risk of contracting COVID-19 increases at large gatherings, at house parties and other places in town.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, we have seen an increase of COVID positive students directly linked to off-campus parties and gatherings, which continue to occur.

This activity is totally unacceptable and needs to stop immediately.

It endangers the safety of others and threatens to prevent the desire of most of you to remain together here at GC for the semester.

Therefore, earlier today I met with Student Government President Nathan Graham and Student Government Chief Justice Kelly Bousquette and asked them to enforce the student code of conduct, which states:

Georgia College may discipline a student in nonacademic matters. This normally involves matters which occur on the Georgia College campus or at Georgia College-sponsored events, but may be extended to off-campus matters which could reasonably be expected to impact the Georgia College community.

Students are subject to disciplinary action for violating the following Code of Conduct: Conduct that constitutes a danger to the personal safety of other members of the university community.

Let me be clear: Students found in violation of this code of conduct as it relates to off-campus activities, such as house parties and large gatherings, thereby endangering the health and safety of others related to the spread of COVID 19, will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including suspension from Georgia College.

Any behavior that endangers the health and safety of our campus is serious business. Once again, I appeal to you and firmly ask that you refrain from organizing or going to parties and other large gatherings where social distancing and mask wearing may be compromised.

Please know that your avoiding parties and large gatherings will help ensure that we all stay together this semester. And, please know that we are supportive of efforts by the City of Milledgeville to encourage all of us to practice safe behaviors downtown.

A lot is at stake here.

Your individual decisions will have a tremendous impact on our entire community. It’s up to you to keep us together.

Let’s redouble our effort here please.

Thank you.

Steve M. Dorman