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Coronavirus-Themed Party at Albany Draws Criticism

February 24, 2020
 
 

Evidence of a coronavirus-themed party has sparked controversy at the University at Albany, of the State University of New York, The Democrat and Chronicle reported Thursday. A since-deleted video of off-campus party, which featured Corona Extra beer, surgical masks and a white sheet decorated with a biohazard symbol, appeared on the Instagram account @BarstoolAlbany last weekend with the caption, “Corona virus isn't gonna stop anyone from partying.”

Barstool Sports is a national sports media company, but many colleges have associated student-run Instagram accounts that typically post videos of parties and undergraduate antics, along with posed photos of female students.

Albany’s Asian American Alliance issued a statement over Instagram, saying the party was insensitive and not funny. “The real life affects [sic] of this virus has not only led to mass stereotyping of Asian people, but also hundreds of deaths around the world,” the statement read. The virus has caused over 2,300 deaths so far, mostly in China.

The statement also demanded that the university “investigate this illegal student group and related UAlbany students, requiring them to delete this video and to apologize on their Instagram homepage.”

“The Office of the President shall inform all UAlbany students to stop racism and disrespectful slogans in any situation,” the alliance demanded, “especially coronavirus hate crime against Asian American students and scholars based on groundless suspicion of virus hosts.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a free-speech organization, has said that the party, however distasteful, is protected by the First Amendment and so the public university is not legally permitted to punish students for the party’s theme. The university is legally permitted to investigate and punish behavior at the party unrelated to the offensive theme, such as underage drinking.

The university released a statement Thursday saying the theme of the party was hurtful and distasteful and “any allegations of conduct violations will be investigated and addressed through the university’s disciplinary process.”

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