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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: I went to Frat Court so you don't have to

UNC's Sigma Nu fraternity house as pictured on Sunday, June 7, 2020.

Winter Candy Apple Bath & Body Works pocket hand sanitizer is the equivalent to a wristband at a frat party in 2020. If that doesn't tell you there's a global public health issue running rampant, especially on UNC's campus, I don't know what will. 

While waiting for my friends last week, I decided to take a late-night walk down Franklin Street to reminisce on what I have been missing these past five months. Chapel Hill looked like a ghost town until I got to Target and Granville Towers.

I wanted to see if the University and Chapel Hill police were enforcing social distancing guidelines, so I decided on my way back home I would walk through the Frat Court shortcut. Before I could make it to the backside parking lot, I was flagged down by around 10 girls coming from one of the Granville Towers, wondering if I was a brother or could get them into one of the three parties happening that night in Frat Court. 

They decided they wanted to try their luck at Sigma Nu, the fraternity that was recently reported to have a cluster of COVID-19 cases. Before they went in, I gave them all a squirt of the hand sanitizer that is on my keys. They got in with no problem, and at that moment I wondered how hard could it be for a guy to get in during these times. 

The brother at the door wasn't wearing a mask, nor were many people I could see inside from the doorstep. I offered him some of my hand sanitizer and he gladly accepted it. With no intention of actually going inside, I asked if I could get in and he seemed hesitant. Before he got a chance to say no, I offered to trade my hand sanitizer to enter the party. 

He agreed. 

I, along with many others, miss the full social experience of going out and meeting new people at parties. But with COVID-19 continuously spreading throughout the nation, we have a civic duty to socially distance ourselves and avoid large gatherings, such as the parties you can hear as you get closer to Frat Court. 

Laughing knowing my hand sanitizer bribe actually worked, I told him I was actually heading home. Sigma Nu didn't respond to a request for comment I made ahead of this column.

As an African American, I am even more worried about COVID-19 because Black and other people of color are suffering at higher rates than white people. Looking at data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention made available after the New York Times sued, you can see that there are racial and ethnic disparities at an alarming rate. In Orange County, there were 41 cases for Black people, 12 for Latinx and 11 for white people per 10,000 cases when this data was released in July. According to The Daily Tar Heel, Black people had 37 percent of the cases in Orange County while making up 11.8 percent of the population. 

With students usually squeezing into houses to party and then going back to their residence halls, many were not surprised to be notified by Carolina Housing that Ehringhaus, Granville and Hinton James had a cluster of positive COVID-19 cases, as well as Sigma Nu. 

The University has been quiet about how fraternities are being regulated, and fraternities like Sigma Nu are going to continue to have parties and clusters of COVID-19 outbreaks if everyone can’t follow social distancing rules and we don't have a proper reopening plan in place.  

I miss hearing "Closing Time" and "Mr. Brightside" as much as the next person, but we should not be picking one party over the lives in the Chapel Hill and Carrboro community.


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