by Mary Rose Corkery
Syracuse University and Purdue University have suspended dozens of students for attending gatherings that violated coronavirus restrictions before classes have begun, the schools announced this week.
Both universities had policies and pledges implemented in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including face mask wearing, social distancing guidelines and restrictions on event sizes, according to statements from the schools.
Syracuse University put 23 students on “interim suspension” for participating in a quad gathering Wednesday that didn’t comply with coronavirus restrictions on gatherings of over 25 people not for wearing masks, the university said in a Thursday statement.
At least 100 students gathered on Syracuse University’s quad, which students previously were able to use for social gatherings, according to student newspaper the Daily Orange.
“Last night, 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,” J. Michael Haynie, vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation at Syracuse, said in a Thursday statement.
“I say this because the students who gathered on the Quad last night may have done damage enough to shut down campus, including residence halls and in-person learning, before the academic semester even begins,” Haynie said.
Haynie said that the students intentionally “ignored New York public health law” and the university’s safety pledge. Haynie called their actions “selfish and unsettling” and endangers those who depend on campus living facilities, according to the statement.
The Daily Orange reported that video of the event had surfaced Thursday, about a week before classes are scheduled to begin.
The gathering started at approximately 9:45 p.m., but the group disbanded at around 10:30 p.m. after school safety officers arrived, Department of Public Safety Chief Bobby Maldonado and Dean of Students Marianne Thompson said in a joint statement.
Consequences for violating Syracuse’s coronavirus guidelines include, but aren’t limited to, expulsion, suspension and eviction from campus housing, Maldonado and Thompson said, statement.
Purdue University suspended 36 students and the Circle Pines Cooperative for gathering at an off-campus residence from Aug. 19 to Aug. 20, breaking the Protect Purdue Pledge, university spokesman Tim Doty confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
University police had responded to a noise complaint of a large party at the house, according to campus newspaper the Exponent. Police who responded said they did not see any masks being worn, the Exponent reported.
Breaking the Protect Purdue Pledge, which includes a commitment to wear a mask, is considered as severe as offenses like as hazing and “academic dishonesty,” according to a Purdue statement.
“Purdue University has been clear and consistent with our messaging to students about the Protect Purdue Plan and the expectations they would need to follow if they made the decision to be on campus this fall,” Purdue’s Dean of Students Katie Sermersheim noted in a statement provided to the DCNF.
“Unfortunately, everything we have done – the months of planning to give our students the opportunity to continue their educational pursuits in person – can be undone in the blink of an eye – with just one party or event that does not follow the rules and guidelines,” Sermersheim said.
The students can appeal their suspensions, and final a decision will be reached after a hearing, Doty told the DCNF.
Syracuse University did not immediately respond to the DCNF.
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Mary Rose Corkey is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.