PROVO — School has only been in session for a week at BYU, but they’re already worried about big gatherings. Their concerns, however, aren’t stopping large parties from happening.
On Friday, BYU had 40 cases of COVID-19. That number rose to 79 on Sunday.
Despite warnings from BYU, it seems parties of a hundred students or more are still happening.
KSL spoke with a student journalist who took photos at one of those parties on Friday night. He said the organizers aren’t trying to hide anything.
“They’ve gotten a lot of attention, both on campus and all throughout Utah County,” said Preston Crawley, photojournalist for The Daily Universe.
Lately Preston’s beat is big off-campus parties — parties that are happening despite COVID-19 concerns.
“I asked to come,” he said. “They knew I was coming. They were really nice to me. They’ve seen my articles and stuff, and let me in for free, and let me take free rein of photos.”
Preston said there were about 150 people there, crowded into a small building right off Provo Center Street. He said he was one of the only people wearing a mask.
“The event for this one said to bring a mask. I didn’t see any masks, though, at the thing either inside or outside,” he said.
On Friday morning, the same morning as the party, BYU officials tweeted that they were concerned with reports of off-campus activities. They said, “behavior this weekend could make or break our ability to remain on campus.”
But that warning did not stop this party from happening.
They knew I was coming. They were really nice to me. They’ve seen my articles and stuff, and let me in for free, and let me take free rein of photos.
–Preston Crawley, photojournalist for BYU's The Daily Universe
“When people start hearing about it, it’s very controversial,” Preston said. “People start talking about how it shouldn’t happen, but then there are also a lot of people saying people should be able to do whatever they want.”
The cases of COVID-19 at BYU nearly doubled in just two days, from 40 to 79.
University officials said there’s not a specific case count that would force campus to close. Instead, it’s a variety of other factors.
“BYU has been very active and is encouraging people to social distance,” Preston said.
Friday night’s party didn’t go as planned, though.
Preston said the police showed up about 10:30 p.m., and the fire marshall was shutting it down. But he said another event like this is likely already in the works.
“My opinion? I wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t a newsworthy thing that I thought people should be seeing,” Preston said.
The party was put on by an event group called Young/Dumb.
KSL reached out for comment, but didn’t hear back.