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OUR VIEW: Illinois State students should be punished
OUR VIEW

OUR VIEW: Illinois State students should be punished

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Nelk boys

This screenshot shows a social media post by Kyle Forgeard, a member of the NELK YouTube group. 

The images of young people rushing to see YouTube group The NELK Boys during a visit to Normal Tuesday highlights a frustrating reality when it comes to COVID: Just as it's a personal responsibility to wear a mask and social distance, it's also possible to disregard all the recommendations entirely.

It also shows why college campuses have become hotbeds of COVID cases in recent weeks. Students are, after all, young adults who have been pent up for the past months. We understand that.

Illinois State University moved roughly 80% of its classes online before school started as a precautionary measure and has made on-campus testing widely available. Illinois Wesleyan University, with its much smaller student population, also instituted strict rules and surveillance testing.

Still, the return of students last month brought a sharp spike in McLean County cases, ultimately putting the county on the state’s warning list in early September. Students bring unique potential to spread COVID-19 because they may come from outside the region, possibly bringing COVID with them, or return home infected. They may or may not show symptoms.

For students, there's a lot riding on making sure numbers level off. Universities across the country have shut down or reverted to remote learning if the virus can't be contained on campus.

Bradley University recently quarantined its entire student body. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is moving all classes online and quarantining students in dorms.

And nationwide, schools are penalizing students found to be in violation. The University of Alabama sanctioned 600 students, including suspending 33, for not following rules. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has suspended six sorority and fraternity chapters. Ohio State University issued about 225 suspensions last month.

Illinois State is working with Normal and police to investigate the visit by the NELK Boys, who specialize in prank videos. Their unplanned stop at an off-campus apartment complex quickly went viral.

Normal has emergency orders limiting gatherings and requiring masks, but the images showed those who gathered didn't care about either. They were packed in together.

The school should punish those students.

Most frustrating, ISU police Chief Aaron Woodruff said the party relocated three times after it was moved.

Normal should pursue legal action against this group.

They put too many of us at risk.

That's not funny.

Photos of the past: 32 images from the Herald & Review archives

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