Updated: Sept. 16, 2020 at 12:20 a.m.
The Delta Tau Delta fraternity shut down its off-campus house to visitors Friday after some members tested positive for COVID-19.
A handful of people attended an off-campus party last weekend, according to an Interfraternity Council member who spoke under the condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to speak on behalf of the fraternity. He said “multiple” Delta Tau Delta members tested positive after attending the party, but he isn’t sure if the student originally carrying the coronavirus knew he was exposing others at the time.
Delta Tau Delta President Jacob Liedke said members tested positive for COVID-19 after attending last week’s gathering, according to an audio recording of a chapter meeting Sunday obtained by The Hatchet.
“I’m guessing all of you guys are aware of some brothers testing positive for COVID-19 – at this time everything is under control,” Liedke said at the meeting. “People have gotten tested, people are isolating and people will be getting tested tomorrow if they haven’t been tested already. And again, I just want to stress this should be a learning experience. We shouldn’t be having this large of events.”
He urged members to practice social distancing, wear masks and get tested regularly.
Liedke did not respond to multiple requests for comment. IFC President Seamus Cullen did not return multiple requests for comment.
The IFC member who spoke anonymously said students have gotten tested after being exposed directly to a member of the fraternity or someone who had been exposed by a member.
He said he knows of at least one student who received a test Friday after being exposed to a member of Delta Tau Delta who tested positive and then met with other friends, potentially spreading the virus.
“There was some sort of gathering there on Sunday and that it involved someone who ended up becoming sick with COVID-19,” he said. “I also know that obviously, there’s people in the frat who were talking about it and kind of trying to cover the whole thing up and cover their tracks, so that’s pretty much the depth of it.”
A screenshot of the Delta Tau Delta GroupMe obtained by The Hatchet included a message sent to members Friday, saying the Delta Tau Delta house would be closed to non-residents for “at least” the next week due to coronavirus concerns. The screenshot advised members not to speak to media about chapter members testing positive.
“What’s worse than a Hatchet reporter with a bunch of free time on their hands? A Hatchet reporter with a bunch of free time and a lead on a potential delt COVID outbreak,” a member said in the GroupMe text.
Another fraternity brother wrote in the group chat that members shouldn’t talk about testing positive for COVID-19.
“Loose lips sink ships,” he said in the GroupMe.
University spokesperson Crystal Nosal said the University communicates “frequently” with off-campus students and reminds them to abide by D.C. COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions. She said while the University encouraged students to remain in their hometowns, if a GW student in D.C. feels they have been exposed to COVID-19, they should contact the Colonial Health Center.
She declined to say if the University had been made aware of a gathering of the fraternity off campus and if any student had filed a complaint about the party.
“GW has received complaints about off-campus activity that is contrary to social distancing restrictions and is investigating those complaints,” Nosal said in an email. “The small community granted access to campus is undergoing a weekly testing regimen, and those testing numbers can be viewed on the new GW COVID-19 Testing Dashboard.”
Jack Kreman, the chief executive office of the Delta Tau Delta International Fraternity, said the international headquarters “expects” all members to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state, local and institutional COVID-19 guidance. He declined to say if the international headquarters had been made aware of fraternity members testing positive for COVID-19.
“Any individuals found in violation should be held accountable,” Kreman said in the email. “It is our expectation that local chapter leaders will hold members accountable. The George Washington Delt chapter leaders have expressed their full agreement with this expectation.”
This post was updated to correct the following:
Due to misinformation from a source, The Hatchet incorrectly reported that a gathering was held at the fraternity’s off-campus residence. It was held off campus but not at the Delta Tau Delta house. We regret this error.