Eleven Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity members tested positive for COVID-19 as of Sept. 4. All members have been instructed to quarantine themselves regardless of test results.
“One of our brothers was getting tested weekly for his job and he got notified that he tested positive earlier (last) week”, said Tyler Parker, senior public relations major and Sigma Tau Gamma member. “Those of us who tested negative were encouraged to go home and quarantine, but I know for a lot of us that wasn’t a real possibility.”
With the recent death of their advisor, Harry Stephens, the fraternity is now also handling an outbreak.
“We have a mental health chair that is available to talk to since we are dealing with cabin fever now too,” Parker said. “The fraternity really is a social aspect and frat men are social creatures. A lot of this may be putting a damp on my senior year, but it’s necessary to do if we want to make it through the year together.”
Kelly Heine, chief marketing officer of marketing and media relations, said the fraternity is now being overseen by public health officials.
“They will be bound for two weeks,” Heine said. “I do believe that after, just like the rest of it, if you continue to do the right thing they will be safe. It takes a lot of personal accountability to make that work. They have their own housing funds and are contracting a third-party vendor that will vacate the men for 24 hours while they come and deep clean everything.”
While this is the first cluster identified in Greek housing, Heine said much of the advice being given to fraternities and sororities comes from national organizations and not the college.
“They all have their own protocols that they worked out with their national organizations to keep them safe in their houses, but it is a lot of people living in the same space,” Heine said. “The only numbers that we really have a full picture of is what is tested through the ESU health center…If a student is tested off-campus they will be a part of Lyon County's total data and if they report their address as Johnson County they will show up there.”
Currently, there are 21 members living in the house with their student leadership taking charge of enforcing the house rules. According to Katherine Brady, director of Greek Life, all the houses have been quick to respond to potential cases of COVID-19.
“There is not a lot that goes undiscovered (in Emporia),” Brady said. “I think if we were experiencing some of the things we are seeing in other, bigger universities in the nation we would have to handle it differently, but I don’t see that being an issue here. We aren’t experiencing COVID parties or those types of things."