ANTIGONISH: All varsity athletic privileges, including practices and training sessions, have been suspended at StFX University.
StFX Athletics and Recreation Director, Leo MacPherson said the move comes as a sanction after university officials discovered student-athletes across every varsity team attended a party at 37 Highland Drive in Antigonish.
“It has come to my attention that StFX student-athletes attended this in numbers greater than the allowable limits mandated by NS Public Health,” MacPherson said in a release. “As an organization, we take this matter very seriously.”
He said students ignored gathering limits and this was a direct violation of their StFX Code of Conduct and these high-risk behaviours are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
“Our biggest disappointment is that student-athletes arrived at this function and didn’t recognise that, ‘hey, this already exceeds parameters,’ and leave,” MacPherson said.
The Reporter has also learned that the house party, which has excess of 50 people in attendance, was also hosted by StFX student-athletes.
As a result, the athletics department chose to suspend all varsity athletic-sanctioned activities for two-weeks, because that is the same amount of time someone is required to self-isolate and they wanted their student-athletes to reflect on their decisions.
StFX Vice President of Students, Elizabeth Yeo, indicated a guest from outside the Atlantic bubble did not self-isolate properly for the mandatory 14-day period, yet attended the social gathering.
RCMP said a 23-year-old woman from Ontario was charged under the Health Protection Act for failing to self-isolate and the ticket was issued on October 8 after an investigation related to the Saturday house party.
The “event” is now also being investigated by StFX, and the university also directed the occupants of the residence where the gathering took place to self-isolate for 14-days.
As a part of the university’s return to campus plan, students were required to sign a code of conduct waiver – outlining the school’s procedures and protocols – before they could attend classes on-campus during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yeo told The Reporter the majority of their students have embraced the idea and have made the shift from these are the rules we need to follow to the choice and mindset of adopting a lower-risk lifestyle.
“While many of our students have been able to make that transition, we still have more work to do with some of our students, who know and understand the rules,” she said. “But they haven’t made that switch to choosing a lower-risk lifestyle because it’s the right thing to do and not because someone is watching them.”
She advised the university wants to avoid putting people through their conduct process, which is why they put such a focus on pro-active education and awareness building.
“There are outliers, and I’m not giving up on them,” Yeo said. “The pandemic could be with us for a long time, we might as well get behind it now and make those lifestyle choices.”
Antigonish District RCMP continues to take enforcement measures and following attending numerous house parties over the October 2-4 weekend, RCMP laid more charges through the province’s Health Protection Act.
Officers responded to three large house parties, and charged three people for failing to social distance, four people were also ticketed through the Liquor Control Act, and one person was charged through the town’s municipal noise by-law.
MacPherson advised any student-athlete found to have violated the StFX Code of Conduct will be subject to the university’s disciplinary process.
Pending the outcome of the university’s investigation, all varsity athletic-sanctioned activities are scheduled to be reinstated on October 19.