With University of Texas at Austin classes beginning Wednesday, students' concerns for their safety were exacerbated when a photo and video circulated showing members of UT Greek life gathering off campus without masks or following social distancing guidelines.
Photo taken by my colleague on UT’s west campus today. Sorority rush. No masks, but if you look closely they are we… https://t.co/pfqDihZ18V— Catherine Weaver (@Catherine Weaver) 1598317015.0
In response, university spokesperson J.B. Bird said all UT students are expected to "recognize their deep responsibility" in protecting the campus and surrounding community by wearing masks and social distancing.
"The students who were in the photo on social media put themselves and others at risk and should get tested through the university's Proactive Community Testing program," Bird said. "We are reaching out to the advisers and national offices of the groups whose members were at the gathering to reinforce our expectations and will continue to look to the City of Austin to enforce its orders on public gatherings."
Many students were immediately outraged, expressing their frustration via social media.
It’s crazy because these are the students that come into Austin, get together and spread Covid, then go out into th… https://t.co/p7DI8G0LpJ— Ernesto (@Ernesto) 1598362664.0
UT Admin and Greek Orgs both disregarding safety measures for their own selfish interests https://t.co/tO2ypj05B3— PJ Chukwurah (@PJ Chukwurah) 1598296048.0
Some have pointed out that the students aren't entirely to blame since the university has continued to push ahead with in-person class plans, even as their own models suggest between 82 and 183 students will arrive on campus with COVID-19.
Counterpoint: we shouldn't blame UT students for our many policy failures. Did @UTAustin have to start this semest… https://t.co/7ZJZpstge2— Ilya Finkelstein (@Ilya Finkelstein) 1598324698.0
On Monday, UT Austin's Interim President Jay Hartzell said there will "almost certainly" be COVID-19 clusters on campus as they proceed with reopening.
The university has maintained that concerned students should trust their peers to make good choices and avoid large gatherings.
UT's Panhellenic Council announced earlier this summer that fall recruitment would be "totally virtual," stating on its website that Bid Day—when potential new members find out which sorority they've been invited to join—"will not involve large, in-person gatherings as it has in the past."
The Panhellenic Council did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday pertaining to the social media posts.
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- San Marcos favorite Industry Burger opens "mid-October" on E. 5th, featuring "low key healthy" Texas fare.
- Still Austin Whiskey Co. introduces "The Artist," its new rye whiskey.
- Domain NORTHSIDE favorites Bakery Lorraine, Grimaldi's Pizzeria, Jeni's Ice Cream and Sprinkles released their fall flavors.
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- Carpenter Hotel announces its popup food truck, Lil Carpenter, open Fri-Sun both ACL weekends, serving what you want, early to late, coffee to donuts, to dogs/burgers/fries/beer.
With major entertainment events slated for October, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is gearing up for a busy month.
Artists and music lovers are set to pack into Zilker Park for The Austin City Limits Music Festival in the coming two weekends. Following that, Formula One will bring racing fans to the Circuit of the Americas.
For those two events, the airport is anticipating high passenger days with 30,000 or more people departing flights.
ABIA recommends arriving at least two and a half hours in advance for domestic flights on those days. For ACL, it's expected on both Sundays of the festival along with the Monday and Tuesday after. The F1-driven high passenger days are expected on Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 23-26.
\u201c#AustinCityLimits visitors, you\u2019re in for a weird and wild ride \ud83e\udd18\u262e\ufe0f \n\nFlying in or out of our airport? We got firm and fun tips for you: https://t.co/RawVRalOXN\u201d— Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) (@Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)) 1664894083
F1, especially, could draw in loads of travelers as the three-day event saw 400,000 attendees last year. ABIA warns that highways leading to the airport may see even higher traffic than usual around the event and that travelers should plan their route accordingly.
Bailey Grimmett, a spokesperson for ABIA, said travel numbers come in 24 hours in advance. So, it's hard to predict if the airport will see travel volumes at the same levels that have happened around previous F1 races or if it'll top ACL's flight traffic.
Still, she says historical knowledge points to a chance for it.
“We've had that Monday after F1 break the record for single busiest in airport history," Grimmett said. "So context clues I would say yes, but I can't confirm that. But the historical background points to that."
In anticipation of the high volume of flyers, the airport received additional TSA officers for security screening through the end of October. To prepare even further, the Department of Aviation and partners hosted a job showcase and hiring fair to address the continued labor shortage the airport has experienced.
Relief from hectic travel days is on the horizon with November likely to see a slowdown.
"I don't anticipate it will be as busy as October just because we don't have as many events going on," Grimmett said. "Thanksgiving is kind of our primary holiday that we see a lot of passengers coming in and out of the airport."