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UVM officials to look into possible punishments following beach parties

Published: Apr. 11, 2021 at 11:51 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 12, 2021 at 5:05 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - After hundreds of young people flocked to Burlington’s beaches Saturday, the University of Vermont is sending a message to its students.

Sunday at North Beach was a quiet one, when just 24 hours before, hundreds of young people were partying.

“We got a long way to go, and the finish line is in sight, but now is not the time to let up for everybody,” said Gary Derr, the vice president of UVM’s Operations and Public Safety.

According to Derr, if UVM students at the public beach weren’t socially distancing or wearing masks, they were violating the Green and Gold Promise. At the start of the semester, they all signed the vow to follow Vermont’s COVID-19 guidelines.

“Some people have sent us a video they took on their smartphone. We are going to be looking that over. We are going to be looking at other information we might have, and if we can successfully identify individuals that were up there that were violating university policy, we will take strong and swift action on this,” said Derr.

Derr says the school will address each person’s actions on a case-by-case basis, considering their past record and the severity of the new violations. Punishment could result in suspension or discontinuation of studies at UVM. Derr says more than 400 students have faced a range of sanctions this spring.

UVM reported nearly 100 new cases of COVID-19 last week, bringing the total for the spring semester to more than 500. To put that in perspective, only 99 students tested positive this past fall.

“Our message to everybody is not who was there or who wasn’t there. We all need to be safe, whether we are on Church Street, whether we’re at a grocery store or whether we are hanging out with friends. Now is not the time to back down,” said Derr.

Sunday morning, North Beach was trashed. The director of Burlington Parks, Recreation and Waterfront, Cindi Wight, says volunteers cleared an entire pickup truck bed’s worth of garbage.

“With about 25% of the residents being college students, they need a place to go and we are happy to have them to come to our beaches. We are just asking for them to be a little bit more responsible with their behavior at the beach,” said Wight.

While alcohol consumption is permitted for people 21 and up on the beach, Wight is reminding visitors to keep activities family-friendly, which means no smoking marijuana.

“The beaches are for everybody, so please respect all the different users down there,” said Wight.

Plus, the Burlington Fire Department says between Friday and Saturday nights, visitors lit around 60 fires at Burlington’s beaches. Open fires are prohibited on beaches.

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