As Students Relax, BU Cracks Down with Stiffer Penalties on Gatherings
New cap drops from 25 to 10, as dean of students acknowledges COVID fatigue, demands “good judgment”
- New campus gathering limit is 10 people, down from 25
- Stiffened penalties for violators of cap and other COVID-19 safety protocols
- Tighter rules follow student suspensions for parties breaking regulations
BU has dropped the permissible cap for on-campus and off-campus gatherings of students from 25 to 10, while imposing consequences for violations of that and other protocols.
The moves, effective immediately and announced in an email to students Monday, follow the suspension last month of a dozen Terriers for parties that violated COVID-19 and other University rules. It also comes amid what BU leaders call a “worrisome increase” in COVID cases among students and employees.
The uptick prompted BU to require that symptom-free attestation badges be displayed by all affiliates seeking to enter dining halls, the George Sherman Union, and other public spaces on campus. The new email, from Kenneth Elmore (Wheelock’87), associate provost and dean of students, outlines the penalties for students who violate gathering guidelines and testing and daily attestation requirements.
“I acknowledge and understand that we may all be experiencing a weariness and fatigue from what we’ve been asked to do with regard to interrupting the spread of COVID-19,” he writes. “However, it is critical for us to…adjust our behavior to continue to interrupt the spread of the virus. Therefore, it is necessary for us to take additional steps.”
Hosting or attending a “gathering, social, or party off campus or on-campus” with more than 10 people, the email says, will trigger suspension for the rest of the academic year and a ban on attending classes in person or remotely. Student organizations, club sports, and teams that host prohibited gatherings will be suspended and have their University recognition withdrawn for the academic year.
I acknowledge and understand that we may all be experiencing a weariness and fatigue from what we’ve been asked to do with regard to interrupting the spread of COVID-19.
“If you live in one of our on-campus student residences and violate these guidelines, you will have to move out of your room, suite, or apartment immediately, and will not be permitted to live on campus for the remainder of the academic year.”
Moreover, Elmore writes, students who don’t comply with their assigned testing frequency and daily symptom attestation will face the following sanctions:
- A first violation will earn a warning message from Elmore’s office that unless the student schedules the necessary testing or attestation within 48 hours, “your Terrier ID Card and campus WiFi access will be automatically disabled; you will be banned from all University properties except for purposes of coming on campus to complete testing; and, you will be prohibited from participating in any classroom or academic activity, either in person or remote, including the ability to access your courses through Blackboard or other platforms, or complete quizzes, examinations, and other course assignments.”
- Missing the 48-hour deadline will trigger disabling of the ID card and campus WiFi, a ban from University property except to complete testing, and a prohibition on “participating in any classroom or academic activity, either in person or remote, including the ability to access your courses through Blackboard or other platforms, or complete quizzes, examinations, and other course assignments.”
- The third testing/symptom attestation offense, participating in classroom or academic activities after being prohibited from them, or coming on campus except for testing, will make a student subject to BU disciplinary action, possibly including suspension or expulsion.
Suspended students will not receive tuition, or if applicable, room and board refunds, Elmore notes in his email.
“We have had a good start to the semester, and overall, the prevalence of the virus on our campus continues to be well below what public health authorities are reporting for the city, state, and many areas across the country,” he writes. “There is no one primary cause or ‘super spreader’ party behind the increase we have experienced.”
Rather, he says, that increase resulted from larger gatherings of students on weekends, smaller gatherings throughout the week without face coverings or distancing during prolonged periods, out-of-Boston-or-Massachusetts travel on weekends and holidays that has exposed students to the virus, and “a large number of mainly off-campus students who are either not submitting their daily symptom attestation, or getting their COVID-19 tests, as required (which makes it more difficult to track and contain the virus on campus).”
Elmore concludes: “Good judgment—and the virus—demands your caution and thoughtfulness to do the things that are easy and make an enormous difference: wear a mask; socialize in small groups only; maintain a safe distance between each other; stay outdoors, as possible, when you socialize; and limit your off-campus travel. I have learned that with this virus, small missteps add up and make it easier for the virus to make its way into our communities.”