Home City Athens mayor, Ohio U president warn against ‘corona fest,’ threaten charges, suspension

Athens mayor, Ohio U president warn against ‘corona fest,’ threaten charges, suspension

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Athens Mayor Steve Patterson, Ohio University President Duane Nellis and City-County Health Commissioner James Gaskell released a joint message on Monday warning students to not organize a “corona fest.”

The message stated that any such gathering would be in direct violation of the Ohio state health director’s order prohibiting public gatherings of 50 or more people. Failure to admit to this order, could result in “immediate action by law enforcement,” according to the joint statement. Criminal charges would include misconduct at an emergency, failure to disperse and riot. 

“The city of Athens will not permit these events to take place as long as the health director’s order remains in effect,” the joint message said.   

The joint message also stated that one or more of these charges could result in suspension or dismissal from any Ohio public university and possible suspension of state funded financial aid for up to two years. 

“We cannot overstate the seriousness of this situation and thus, for the sake of everyone’s health and safety, we strongly discourage any attempt to organize “fests” while the health director’s order remains in effect,” the joint message said. 

“Mill Fest” — the first in a series of Spring Fests hosted by Ohio U students, but denounced by the university — was scheduled for March 21. However, in lieu of the university’s decision to move online for the remainder of the semester amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, students took it upon themselves to continue the tradition. 

A group chat of over 3,000 students at its apex formed last week in an attempt to plan “corona fest.” It was quickly denounced on social media. 


Classes are set to resume online beginning March 23 after Ohio U’s extended spring break.

No coronavirus cases have been reported on Ohio U’s Athens campus or any regional campuses as of Monday evening, and the risk of virus transmission on campus is believed to be low. Those who are ill were instructed to not come to campus.

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