Universities Crack Down on Parties, Punish Students for Breaking Social Distancing Rules

August 26, 2020 Updated: August 26, 2020

As colleges and universities across the country moved to reopen their campuses this fall, several institutions have suspended large numbers of students for violating guidelines that are meant to avoid CCP virus outbreaks.

Even before the start of in-person classes, Ohio State University (OSU) has reportedly suspended 228 students who failed to follow its health guidelines, according to CNN. The university allows students to return to campus as early as Aug. 19, and requires them to wear a mask, keep at least six feet apart from each other, and avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people.

In an Aug. 21 letter to the campus community, OSU’s Vice President of Student Life Melissa Shivers said school officials are investigating “dozens of conduct cases” of “unsafe behaviors” warning them that they could risk suspension or losing scholarships if they don’t follow the safety measures.

“Perhaps knowing about the action we are taking will influence your decisions and prompt you to encourage others to take this situation seriously,” Shivers said in the letter. “Remember that this is all about more than the individual. We have one shot at this—responding to what so many of you asked for: an on-campus semester at Ohio State.”

At University of Connecticut (UConn), students who participated in a packed dorm-room party without social distancing or wearing masks have been evicted from on-campus housing, after a video of the party was posted to Reddit.

“We cannot afford the cost to the public health that is associated with inviting students into a room for a late night party,” UConn Dean of Students Eleanor Daugherty and Residential Life Director Pamela Schipani said in a letter to students. “The vast majority of our students are doing the right thing—but every student needs to do the same.”

Similarly, Syracuse University suspended 23 students shortly after videos and photos posted to social media, showing a large group of students gathering on the school quad. Student newspaper The Daily Orange estimated that more than 100 students showed up at the party on the night of Aug. 16, apparently a violation of the university and New York state’s policies to limit gatherings to 25 people.

“A large group of first-year students selfishly jeopardized the very thing that so many of you claim to want from Syracuse University—that is, a chance at a residential college experience,” wrote J. Michael Haynie, the university’s vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation, in a campus-wide letter condemning the party. “The world is watching, and they expect you to fail. Prove them wrong. Be better. Be adults.”

As of Aug. 24, the first day of the 2020-21 academic year, Syracuse reported one student and one employee had tested positive for COVID-19. Syracuse Chancellor Kent Syverud said he is concerned whether the university will be able to stay open and move on with in-person instruction.

“If you choose not to social distance; if you choose not to wear a mask; if you choose to gather in large groups, then sooner than you imagine, we all will be sent home.” said Syverud in his welcome message to new and returning students. “That has happened at other schools, and it can quickly happen here.”

Syverud’s remarks came as several universities have been forced to change their plans of reopening for in-person classes. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Notre Dame announced earlier this month that they would be shifting back to online instruction because their campuses saw hundreds of new COVID-19 cases after students returned. At Oklahoma State University, in-person classes were briefly paused after an off-campus sorority house, where 23 of the Greek life members tested positive for the CCP virus, was placed under quarantine.