The university postponed rushing, pledging and group events on campus with 25 people or more until Oct. 23 following a 300% increase in COVID-19 cases since the beginning of October.
As of Friday, ACU has 103 active cases of COVID-19 and 201 members of the community are in self-quarantine for possible exposure.
“By their very nature, intramural sports, rushing and pledging are social activities that encourage groups of students to gather, increasing the likelihood of infection and communal spread,” Dr. Tamara Long, vice president for enrollment, said. “While we are all eager to return to normalcy, keeping everyone safe must remain our highest priority.”
The university also suspended all intramural sports taking place until Oct. 23.
Despite the surge in cases, Dr. Schubert, president of the university, said this was an expected outcome of returning to campus.
“We recognize it is difficult to follow these protocols in a community as relational as ours, but it is absolutely essential,” Schubert said in an email. “Our medical clinic and our Student Life teams, in particular, are working tirelessly to manage all of the necessary actions in this environment, but they cannot do it alone.”
Bid night was originally scheduled for Oct. 23, but the suspension of campus events ultimately pushes pledging back further. Pledging was scheduled to run two weeks from Oct. 24 until Nov. 8. With the shift online following Thanksgiving Break, rushing and pledging details are unknown.
Before the spike in cases the university had kept coronavirus positive results down significantly compared to other universities across the nation. Long said that ACU had worked tirelessly over the summer to allow student to return in the fall.
“I don’t get emotional very easy,” Dr. Tamara Long, vice president for enrollment, said. “But watching them move in and spending so much time getting ready over the summer brought tears to my eyes.”
The university did not comment on a possible shift to online instruction.
“We will continue to carefully evaluate the landscape and take additional steps as necessary,” Schubert said. “While we prefer not to cancel campus activities or change existing plans, the health and safety of our campus is our highest priority.”