A Twitter video posted on Saturday, September 12 appears to show RCMP breaking up a party on campus.
RCMP confirmed that it broke up the event in the video and estimated that around 50 partygoers were present.
Kristin Conrad, a graduate student living on campus, took the 30-second clip which shows two police cars with flashing sirens and fewer than 10 people running away from the scene.
“front row seats to the RCMP breaking up a party of ~50 people,” reads the tweet.
Conrad tweeted that the gathering took place across from Orchard Commons residence in between Totem Park and Ritsumeikan-UBC House. She said in messages to The Ubyssey that participants were not observing physical-distancing guidelines and that there were “absolutely no masks in sight.”
University RCMP Constable Christina Martin, who responded to the call on the night of the incident at around 10:30 p.m., could not provide the exact number of attendees. However, she agreed with the estimate that there were around 50 people present.
When confronted by the RCMP, the crowd quickly scattered. But out of those who remained and were questioned by the officers, most were first-year UBC students, Cst. Martin said.
Cst. Martin added that no arrests or fines were issued, as the RCMP had been instructed by the Honourable Mike Farnworth, BC Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, to take an educational approach rather than a punitive one.
“We’re all in this together. We all have to do our part. It’s not easy for anybody at any age group, but we have to get through this together and adhere to the regulations,” Cst. Martin said.
This comes as active COVID-19 cases are on the rise in British Columbia, with young people making up the largest demographic.
To crack down on large social gatherings, Farnworth announced in August new rules that would impose up to $2,000 fines on individuals hosting events with over 50 people and without providing sanitation, keeping a record of contact information or facilitating physical distancing.
UBC mirrored the provincial approach in its COVID-19 Safety Planning Framework, namely cancelling all events with more than 50 people present. The university also mandated non-medical mask usage indoors starting September 16.
However, in its COVID-19 Campus Rules document, UBC did not outright prohibit private casual parties or gatherings on campus.
“Everyone is advised to maintain physical distance from others as much as possible unless other safety measures are in place,” reads the rules.
“Failure to follow these rules or other rules or safety protocols by students may result in discipline pursuant to the UBC Student Code of Conduct.”
Matthew Ramsey, UBC spokesperson, reminded students to follow all provincial health guidelines. He added that if they do try to hold gatherings within their units, it would be in direct violation of their housing contract, with penalties ranging up to eviction.
“Students in residence are not permitted to have gatherings in units or UBC buildings. This was obviously not a university sanctioned event,” he said.
At this time, the students involved in the alleged party are not facing penalties from the university, Ramsey said. However, he said that campus security will be increasing patrols and advising students to follow procedures if they are seen violating them. If non-compliance ensues, campus security officers have been told to alert the authorities.
“What happened on Saturday was the ideal outcome: a concerned community member called the police and students were dispersed.”