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Brown Made COVID Town Halls Mandatory for Athletes

Andy Berg

Brown University officials were so alarmed by student-athlete behavior that they held mandatory educational sessions to reinforce COVID-19 guidelines on campus.

New reporting reveals that the Department of Athletics at Brown held two mandatory town halls for all student-athletes studying in the Providence area.

“It has come to our attention that there have been clusters of gatherings in which social distancing, wearing masks, maintaining groups under 15 and other health and safety practices were not observed,” wrote the Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards in a Sept. 14 letter sent to student-athletes which was reviewed by The Brown Daily Herald. “Most of the reports we have received have implicated a variety of athletics teams.

“Being a student-athlete is a significant honor but also a weighty responsibility. Although it may seem unfair, you are expected to be a role model for the campus community because of your heightened visibility.”

While the letter focused to some extent on possible violations of state and school guidelines, director of athletics Jack Hayes said the primary intention was to offer another opportunity to educate student-athletes rather than reprimand them.

“We took it upon ourselves to meet with students in the fall just to go through (Brown and Rhode Island COVID-19) protocols … to make certain that students comply with those so that we can keep the campus and the Providence area as safe as possible and do our best to try to control the situation,” Hayes said.

Some students were frustrated by the tone of the email, saying the school was singling out and chastising student-athletes who had been following protocols. Each town hall consisted of a review of both university and Rhode Island rules, as well as a discussion of the science behind those guidelines.

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