Off campus party hosted on gameday

Partygoers congregate during an off-campus gathering on Saturday near Jenkins Avenue. See related tweet.

After video of off-campus parties went viral over the weekend, Norman Mayor Breea Clark said the city is discussing necessary changes to avoid potentially unsafe gatherings on game days.

Clark said the Game-day Planning Task Force met Monday to explore possible safety measures for the future.

"We have been working for weeks to plan a safe game day experience for our residents and fans, but this past weekend has highlighted some of the areas that need significant improvement," Clark said. "Throughout this pandemic, Norman has led the way in our state with proactive measures to protect public health. That standard was not met this past Saturday, but we can and will do better.

"Our committee met again today to discuss the necessary changes and additional restrictions that must be made to allow for better enforcement going forward. We will continue to work on these changes over the next week and will have them in place by our next home game."

Campus Corner was sparsely populated Saturday compared to busy game days in previous years. On Sept. 8, the City Council tightened restrictions to the popular game day spot and to bars as well.

In wake of these tighter restrictions being imposed Saturday on bars for the first game day of the pandemic season, some people were drawn to off-campus parties.

Earlier on Monday, city of Norman and University of Oklahoma officials both said they could not enforce the wearing of masks or social distancing Saturday on private property.

On Saturday before the home opener against Missouri State, the Norman Police Department responded to a party hosted on Jenkins Avenue, according to the department's Twitter account.

A Transcript reporter’s video tweeted Saturday showed off-campus people partying for game day on South Jenkins Avenue without masks or social distancing despite warnings from the university.

“NPD responded to this location Saturday afternoon and provided education on the various city ordinances pertaining to a gathering of this nature,” the tweet said.

“Upon follow-up, the gathering was no longer occurring.”

City of Norman spokesperson Annahlyse Meyer said that although the city does not condone the actions of some on game day, the city cannot enforce any regulations on private property at this point.

“We strongly encourage social distancing and the wearing of masks while on private property,” Meyer said. “We don’t have an ordinance in limiting the sizes of gatherings on private property. These parties would fall under [The University of Oklahoma’s] jurisdiction and their code of conduct.”

Meanwhile, OU spokesperson Kesha Keith said the university doesn’t require students to follow a certain set of COVID-19 guidelines while off-campus.

“OU cannot be responsible for enforcing its COVID policies for private, off-campus gatherings or events,” she said. “In all instances, the university strongly encourages individuals to wear face masks in public and to avoid congregating in large groups that impede social distancing.”

NPD public information officer Sarah Jensen told The Transcript the department is not responsible for enforcing COVID-19 regulations.

“Anything related to COVID-19 enforcement should be directed to the city for a statement as it is a joint effort with [Norman Fire Department] and code enforcement,” Jensen said in a statement.

All other calls for service and enforcement handled by the NPD were resolved through further education and no enforcement was taken, the statement said.

In its next home game, OU hosts Kansas State Sept. 26 in Norman.

Emma Keith contributed to this article

Reese Gorman

366-3532

Follow me @reeseg_3

rgorman@normantranscript.com

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