The Kappa Delta sorority of the University of Alabama called off their planned Thanksgiving party for 600 people. The City Council had approved the event but after public outrage, the sorority canceled it.
Dubbed the Farm Party, the annual Thanksgiving event had special arrangements in light of the pandemic. The organizers’ proposal to the Tuscaloosa City Council was approved in a 4-2 vote last week.
However, after outlets like The Daily Beast reported the event, the sorority canceled it. In an email to the publication, Kappa Delta’s national communications manager Sarah Anderson confirmed the sorority’s decision to cancel the party even with the approval of the University of Alabama Office of Student Involvement and the City Council, “to protect the health and safety of the campus community.”
The Kappa Delta farm party scheduled for tonight has been cancelled. More from Hannah Saad below: https://t.co/eOj6LjM7BN
— The Crimson White (@TheCrimsonWhite) November 18, 2020
The City Council meeting had organizer Casey Johnson, who submitted the proposal, explaining that guests will be divided into three shifts of 200 each, and will have their temperature checked. “I want to make sure that the council understands that this is not a group of 600, 800, or 1,000 people at the event at one time,” she reiterated.
She also reasoned that the only way to enter the venue is with buses, so the crowd can be contained. Aside from that, the farm has an area of 14 acres and the event will be held outdoors.
City Council Vote
The City Council gave approved the party in a 4-2 vote. Mayor Walt Maddox left the decision to the council because his daughter is a Kappa Delta member.
Council member Sonya McKinstry accepted the precautionary measures of transporting guests in shifts. “So, hearing that, it gives me confidence that there are not going to be a thousand kids out there with no responsibility,” she said.
Council member Kip Tyner was concerned about the financial constraints of COVID-19, citing how sports had already been canceled. On this point, organizer Johnson mentioned how the party would give employment to local musicians and entertainment staff.
However, council president Cynthia Almond, one of the two dissenting votes, was wary of the college students’ ability to follow social distancing rules. “They won’t wear their masks or stay six feet apart while they’re at this party. I’ve got a real concern about that.” She also pointed out that these students will go home for Thanksgiving, possibly spreading the virus if they get infected.
After media outlets started reporting on the event, public outcry followed. Louise Manos, a 61-year-old radiation therapist, expressed anger at the City Council to The Daily Beast, saying it’s “appalling and dangerous” to allow the “superspreader” event.
City council member Phyllis Odom apologized to the citizens of Tuscaloosa, calling her vote to approve the event “careless and irresponsible” and that it sent the wrong message to the community.