Anisa Curry Vietze
Sixteen students who were found in violation of the COVID-19 safety practices in the College’s Community Agreement have been asked to leave campus and complete the remainder of the semester remotely.
Before returning to campus this fall, all students were required to read and sign a Community Agreement as a part of the College’s ObieSafe guidelines for COVID-19 safety, which stated — among other protocols — that students must remain masked at all times outside of their private bedrooms.
According to Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo, the sixteen students were involved in several separate incidents that led the College to ask them to leave campus. Thus far, the College has received numerous reports of students in breach of the agreement. Many of these violations were reviewed by the Office of the Dean of Students, but not all reports merited the same disciplinary action.
In a Sept. 8 statement to parents, students, and faculty, Raimondo reminded students of the importance of adhering to policies to limit COVID-19 transmission.
“None of these violations were malicious; most involved coming together socially without masks,” Raimondo’s statement read. “The students who violated the Community Agreement are valued members of our community who made mistakes. I look forward to welcoming them back to campus, but in the interests of our shared wellbeing, they cannot remain in residence this semester.”
Raimondo also highlighted the link between cases of students violating the Community Agreement and alcohol and drug use.
“My urgent concern about these substances is that you must unmask to consume them — typically inside to avoid scrutiny, and thus in close proximity — and they impact your ability to make thoughtful choices about public health,” Raimondo wrote in her Sept. 8 statement.
While breaches of the Community Agreement around COVID-19 safety are reviewed by the Office of the Dean of Students, cases that also violate the Student Code of Conduct are reviewed separately by the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards.
According to the Community Agreement, students who do not comply with the outlined regulations may be asked to leave campus and are not entitled to a tuition or room and board refund from the College. However, the sixteen students who have been asked to leave as of Sept. 8 will receive a partial refund for room and board.
“It is so early in the semester, [so] the College is planning to offer a partial [room and board] refund to these students,” Raimondo wrote in an email to the Review. “The goal is to be fair, but also to recognize that the College has costs already.”
With the semester’s add/drop period ending yesterday, the sixteen students who were asked to leave had time to adjust their class schedules. However, any students who are dismissed from campus in the future won’t have this opportunity and will need to seek an accomodation.
“Students who violate the Community Agreement and thus are asked to leave campus will be able to study remotely, so long as their classes permit full-remote study,” Raimondo wrote to the Review. “In the rare cases where a course is only in-person and there is no viable option to study remotely, the student will have to withdraw.”
College fourth-year and Chair of Student Senate Henry Hicks spoke to his response to the news.
“My initial reaction was complicated in the same way that I imagined most students felt,” Hicks said. “I think that one of the things that was reassuring to me … was clarity that ObieSafe violations do not remain on your record the way that [student] conduct violations do. They’re very different processes.”
Student Senate released information about these proceedings on social media as part of its ObieReal campaign.
According to the Procedures for Supporting Compliance with the Student Enrollment Agreement, the College may consider different levels of disciplinary measures depending on the severity of the incident. Different outcomes include education, a warning, or removal from campus.