Students have kept partying, even as the University continues its third virtual semester due to COVID-19. Instagram page @whereyallgoin_unc is exposing students who post videos of crowded, sweaty fraternity parties, packed party buses and other violations of UNC’s COVID-19 Community Standards.
"Where y’all goin?" answers the question of what students are doing during the pandemic, and many don’t like the answer.
How it started
"Where y’all goin?" was created in August 2020 after a UNC student noticed increased social gatherings accompanying a rise of COVID-19 cases in Chapel Hill.
Concerned community members started submitting media of large groups of students – a video of the infamous Hinton James Residence Hall slip-and-slide sparked outrage on campus. Another post depicted more than a dozen maskless people gathered outside of a gas station. A video taken at an indoor party revealed inebriated revelers singing and dancing, seemingly oblivious to the risks of the pandemic.
The account's administrator, who asked to remain anonymous — citing numerous death threats and sexually explicit direct messages — had seen these photos circulating privately and wanted the public to see them.
“I heard friends texting and talking on social media about seeing people out in Chapel Hill, and I was like, ‘Well, I don't want to just send these photos around and sit in our little sad ‘what the f--- are these people doing?’ circle,” the account administrator said. “I just decided to post them. Not trying to be the leading expert on COVID-19 safety, not trying to go into other parts of social justice, just posting exactly what people are sending me and seeing what's going on.”
Now, COVID-19 cases are climbing in North Carolina, and the state is under a Modified Stay At Home Order, which requires people to stay home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., requires face coverings in public and places restrictions on gatherings in indoor and outdoor spaces. The order has been extended until at least Feb. 28, 2021.
The "Where y'all goin?" account administrator said they were shocked at the lack of empathy portrayed in student posts showing parties and gatherings.
“The students in the videos are okay with cases rising, and they post these things whether or not they know there are going to be people watching them who lost people, or who have been to a socially distanced funeral… I've been to one,” they said. “If I can give those people who are posting and partying and living it up like nothing's going on, if I can give them a little bit of shame… that is why I started tagging people.”
Junior Mia Babson said they were happy to see "Where y'all goin?" holding students responsible for breaking COVID-19 guidelines, through what they described as positive peer pressure.
"They're selfish – they're choosing to go out and party because they want to and want that part of the college experience, but realistically, they're harming not only themselves, but other people who are just trying to go to college,” Babson said. “I'm honestly very glad that ‘Where y’all goin?’ exists because it mandates this accountability from your peers.”
Some students featured in ‘Where y’all goin?’ posts have been tagged and identified in the comment section.
Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said he is aware of the videos and is working with campus police and Chapel Hill authorities to provide authentication that the people in the footage are Chapel Hill residents.
"There are a number of students that have already been cited and who are going through the judicial process here and potentially will be disenrolled," Guskiewicz said. "We’re using all the resources we have to try to keep the campus community and the surrounding Chapel Hill/Carrboro community safe."
Could pandemic parties further delay in-person instruction?
With the University poised to resume in-person classes on Feb. 8, students and faculty are expressing concerns that there will be a repeat of last semester’s clusters and campus shutdown, especially after seeing widespread scenes of partying on "Where y’all goin?."
COVID-19 outbreaks continue to be a problem at the University – a cluster was reported in Carmichael Residence Hall a week before classes began, and a cluster in Avery Residence Hall was announced on Jan. 29. As of Monday, the UNC-Chapel Hill COVID-19 Dashboard reported 301 positive cases from on-campus testing since the start of January.
First-year Sneha Pasupula is worried about the University reopening, especially after learning of parties from "Where y’all goin?," which she described as “superspreader events.”
“Last semester we had about 1,000 cases within the first week of classes," Pasupula said. "The University definitely needs to discipline these people who are partying. COVID affects so many people, and even if you survive, there are so many health effects. It’s really scary to see that UNC students breaking these guidelines aren't thinking about the community at large, and it shows a lot of privilege.”
However, despite the revelations from "Where y’all goin?," first-year Kaitlyn Pedde is cautiously optimistic that this semester could go better than last fall.
"I'm hoping that it'll be better – the increased testing they're doing now, they should have done last semester," Pedde said. "And it seems like COVID is only getting worse, so just increasing testing I don't think is going to help a lot, but I am trying to be optimistic about it. There's so many bad things going on that if I just accept everything, it's impossible to function."
Guskiewicz is also hopeful the University's actions to enforce Community Standards will reduce COVID-19 transmission.
“We learned a lot from last semester and our division of Student Affairs is working closely with many organizations on campus, including Greek life, to be sure that everyone is adhering to the COVID-19 Community Standards," Guskiewicz said.
The administrator of "Where y'all goin?" shares some of Pedde's apprehensive hope.
“I hope that UNC pays attention, and I hope that the conversation, at least on my posts, stays on topic about the fact that people are breaking these guidelines,” they said.
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