As the eyes of the nation watch college campuses to see if coronavirus spikes will take place as some experts have feared, the eyes of college administrators are on their students.
Northeastern University in Boston has announced that it is booting 11 first-year students who were together in one room at the Westin Hotel, which is being used to house 818 Northeastern students, according to a release posted on the college’s website.
Two days after the Wednesday event, the offending first years — and their parents too — were told the students had 24 hours to leave Westin.
The students are not just kicked out of the housing. They “have been informed that they are no longer part of the Northeastern community for the fall semester. They have the right to contest their dismissal at an expedited hearing,” according to the news release.
“Northeastern and its community of students, faculty, and staff take violations of health and safety protocols very seriously,” said Madeleine Estabrook, senior vice chancellor for student affairs at Northeastern.
“Cooperation and compliance with public health guidelines is absolutely essential. Those people who do not follow the guidelines — including wearing masks, avoiding parties and other gatherings, practicing healthy distancing, washing your hands, and getting tested — are putting everyone else at risk.
“Testing negative for COVID-19 is not enough,” Estabrook added. “We must practice all of the public health guidelines in order to keep ourselves and the community healthy. Together, we can keep each other safe, but it will require everyone’s consistent cooperation.”
The State University of New York at Albany, meanwhile, has suspended four students so far this year over disallowed parties, according to WAMC-FM.
University spokesman Jordan Carleo-Evangelist said SUNY Albany now prowls social media to look for parties that could spread the disease.
“Just doing that we’ve been able to prevent several parties before they happen, which is the ideal scenario, because then you avoid the conduct and the contact that is so concerning with COVID-19,” he said.
“And then we monitor social media after the fact. And if we’re able to obtain images, video of students and identify them as UAlbany students and they’re violating our code of conduct, we can and will initiate proceedings based on that,” Carleo-Evangelist added.
“So it’s an ongoing process. We have staff on the streets with [the Albany Police Department] and other city officers this week visiting houses that concerns were raised about over the last weekend and we’ll keep doing that.”
Colleges in New York state have become mindful of the impact of parties after the SUNY campus at Oneonta was forced to close less than two weeks into the semester because of a spike in positive coronavirus tests.
Following several student-organized parties in August, the number of students who tested positive for the virus exceeded 500 last week, leading the school to scrap its plans for in-person classes and close down its dorms, according to The New York Times.
As of Aug. 25, just two students at the university had tested positive for the virus.
“This is a sad day for SUNY Oneonta,” college president Dr. Barbara Jean Morris said in announcing the school’s abandonment of its plans to remain open.
First-year student Haley Dimonda, who was among those to test positive, said the spread of the virus through the 6,000-student school was “inevitable.”
“With the parties or without the parties, this would’ve happened anyway, but people partying spread it quicker,” she said.
“The whole thing about infectious disease control is that you have to find the virus to stop the virus,” said Dr. David Larsen, an epidemiologist at the school.
“We need to point our testing to where we suspect there are going to be cases.”
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