On Thursday, August 13, University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD emailed members of the Villanova community reiterating the importance of the CARITAS Commitment. His email came just hours after a group of a few hundred freshmen gathered outdoors on South Campus, defying social-distancing orders.
“Let me be perfectly clear, if we don’t do these things, you will be sent home, and more importantly, our community members’ health will be at risk” Father Peter emphasized in his message.
According to David Tedjeske, Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police for the University, a call came in just before 10 p.m. last night. A Resident Advisor on South Campus called Public Safety to report a large number of students gathered around the tent due north of Donohue Court.
“Officers responded as soon as they were called and found a few hundred students, some with masks and others without,” Tedjeske said in a phone interview. “Officers used their P.A. systems, and the crowd of students quickly dispersed. All students were cooperative with our officers.”
Any gathering without proper social distancing is in violation of the University’s health and safety orders for the semester, as outlined in Community First: The CARITAS Commitment.
“Your actions significantly impact every single person on this campus,” Father Peter wrote. “If you follow the guidelines we have set up – wearing a mask at all times, washing your hands frequently, social distancing and staying home when you are sick – we can make this semester work. And what do I mean by make this work? I mean: keep you healthy and safe, keep you on campus and keep campus open.”
Father Peter and the administration have made clear that students unwilling to follow guidelines and procedures should not be on campus.
“We want people to be here,” Fr. John Stack, OSA, Vice President of the Office of Student Life, said in an interview. “If you can’t agree to the commitment, can’t wear a mask and can’t keep a safe distance, you should consider going home.”
By the end of Thursday, Tom DeMarco, Dean of Students and Assistant VP for Residence Life, and Nicholas Tumolo, Assistant Dean of Students, will have spoken to all new students about the importance of following the regulations of the CARITAS Commitment.
The University has no plans at this time for students to be re-tested for COVID-19. Students were required to have a negative test result before moving into their dorms.
“It is still important for students to be watching for symptoms and monitoring their health daily,” Stack said.
As agreed to in the CARITAS Commitment, students must wear masks and socially distance themselves from others, especially in social settings. Students are asked to hold each other accountable for making these promises.
Tedjeske said that if students see others not wearing masks, they can contact Public Safety officers who will address the students.