Eighty-four undergraduate students tested positive for COVID-19 on Feb. 14, according to the University dashboard, marking the highest single-day spike among undergraduate students this academic year.
Deputy University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss told The Daily Princetonian that the positive cases might be tied to certain eating clubs or athletic teams.
“Preliminary contact tracing information has identified connections [among cases] involving eating clubs and athletic teams, but other connections are being investigated,” he wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’
This spike comes following large gatherings hosted by several eating clubs aimed at welcoming new members following Street Week and Bicker. Several sources within their respective clubs confirmed to the ‘Prince’ that Cap & Gown and Tiger Inn (TI) were among those clubs that held events meant to initiate new members. These sources have been granted anonymity due to club policies regarding speaking to reporters.
According to Tower Club President and member of the Interclub Council (ICC) AJ Lonski ’23, “[t]he ICC agreed to have pickups on February 18th, working in conjunction with the university.”
A message seen by the ‘Prince’ from a TI group chat asked members to like the message if they had tested positive. As of 10:44 PM on Feb. 15, the message had received 79 likes. (TI members told the ‘Prince’ that they have not received an email on case counts from club leadership.)
TI President Jake Rodgers ’22 said in an email to the ‘Prince’ that there is currently an “inner-club outbreak” at TI, but did not clarify any numbers.
Rodgers also claimed in the email that clubs were told by Graduate Interclub Council (GICC) leadership that they had been granted permission by senior University administrators to host “Sign-In” events, similar to initiation, “after a required training.” Rodgers said that a representative from TI was present at the training, which he said took place on Feb. 11.
Since the dashboard update on Monday, Rodgers said that TI has made changes to dining and social policy, “revert[ing] to the grab and go system for dining, and cancel[ing] all social activities for the near future.”
In an email to the ‘Prince,’ Rodgers stressed the club's commitment to abiding by University guidelines on COVID-19.
“After we noticed an uptick in Covid cases from members of sports teams late last week, we made sweeping changes to halt the spread of COVID-19 throughout our membership, and the rest of campus,” wrote Rodgers.
“The Tiger Inn has and continues to only host events that fall within University guidelines,” he added.
In an email to the ‘Prince,’ Cap & Gown President Kate Liu ’23 explained that the club has “not hosted any events that were not in compliance with University guidance.”
“Cap & Gown takes very seriously our responsibility to keep our club and greater Princeton community safe, and we have continued to comply with University protocols relating to COVID-19,” Liu wrote. “We cooperate closely with our University partners in order to ensure that we are in lockstep with them and continue to carry out both the letter and the spirit of University protocols.”
An email, later obtained by the ‘Prince,’ was sent to Cap & Gown members on Feb. 14 explaining that four members of the club tested positive and were in the clubhouse throughout the weekend.
Andrew Somerville is a Head News Editor who has covered USG, University and COVID-related affairs. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @andr3wsom.