Boston’s Northeastern University has dismissed 11 first-year students who were found gathering in a room in violation of the school’s social distancing rooms – and none of them will be getting their $36,500 semester fees back.
Northeastern announced that it had dismissed the students on Friday, less than two days after the students were caught in a room at the Westin Hotel, which the school has been using as a temporary dorm.
The school’s spokesperson told the Boston Globe that the students – who were not named – were not wearing masks and not engaging in social distancing on Wednesday night.
Northeastern University in Boston dismissed 11 students found in a dorm room without masks or social distancing, in violation of school policy
The school said it had given students plenty of warning about policies involving wearing masks, social distancing and not gathering in groups, as seen in this handbook highlight
The students were found by school staffers who were making rounds in the building that night.
The students and their parents were told on Friday of Northeastern’s decision to dismiss them and were given 24 hours to vacate their rooms at the Westin, where 818 students were being housed in two-person rooms as part of the college’s social distancing measures.
Before they left, the students were forced to take coronavirus tests, ‘with the understanding that anyone who tests positive will be moved into wellness housing at the university until they have recovered,’ the school said in a post on its news website.
The Northeastern spokesperson said that the students will not be allowed to take classes remotely this fall and will not be eligible to get their $36,500 in tuition money or their housing costs refunded because they were part of a special, prepaid one-semester program.
The school’s news site reported that students in the program – called N.U.in – were told multiple times over the past week that they needed to ‘practice physical distancing, avoid crowds, and wear masks in the presence of other people.’
The students had to acknowledge that they had reviewed the program’s handbook which clearly stated the school’s expected coronavirus safety precautions.
The handbook states in part that ‘there will be no guests, visitors, or additional occupants allowed in residential assigned bed spaces during this time; this includes neighbors within your residential building.’
The university has reported 23 positive coronavirus tests since it began keeping track on August 17, 20 of them among students
In addition, students were sent a letter on August 28 telling them that ‘Students who host an unsafe (no masks and without healthy distancing) gathering, social or party, either on or off-campus can expect suspension.’
The same suspension applied to ‘Students who attend an unsafe gathering, social or party, either on or off-campus.’
Also in August, Northeastern had had to send letters to 115 incoming first-year students and their parents after the students said on social media that they were going to go to parties in the fall.
Students living in the Westin told the Boston Globe that they weren’t surprised that the coronavirus rules had been broken.
But, they did admit that it had occurred so quickly, as many students had only moved into the makeshift dorm just one or two days prior to the incident happening.
Many of the students said that they agreed with the university’s punishment because the only to make sure that the semester can continue with in-person attendance is if everyone follows the rules.
‘I was upset because it’s just really stupid to go around and still have these social gatherings. Those kinds of things are just going to ruin everything for everyone else,’ first-year student Darren Ng told the newspaper.
Boston residents are said to be concerned by students returning to in-person classes this fall.
Under normal circumstances during the school year, Boston is flooded with students from all over the US and the world, attending the many colleges and universities in the city.
People living near schools are said to be worried that students heading back to the city will increase chances of the virus spreading and there have been calls for classes to be held online only.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh has urged students not to attend parties and asked schools to communicate their coronavirus testing and safety protocols.
Several colleges and universities around the country have reported a spike in coronavirus cases among students after they returned to campus and started attending parties or going to bars.
Like many other schools, Northeastern has a coronavirus testing dashboard, which mimics those created and updated by state health officials.
Northeastern first began publicly reporting testing results on August 17, with 1308 completed tests and zero positive coronavirus results.
As of September 3, Northeastern has carried out 42,504 tests and had 23 positive cases – 20 belonging to students.
The 11 suspended students will be allowed to contest their dismissal at an expedited hearing, the school said.
They were part of the N.U.in program, which allowed first-year students to study abroad during the first semester, although the program had to be moved to Boston due to the pandemic.