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Northeastern University enforces social regulations

By Dhruv Anish and Norah Shen Oct. 16, 2020

Beomhee Kim Art


Near the end of August, Northeastern University, a private university in Boston, dismissed 11 first-year students for breaking COVID-19 regulations by partying in a hotel without masks or social distancing. Although students will be able to return to campus in the spring, the university will not be refunding their $36,500 tuition payments.


According to a survey conducted by Boston.com, 51 percent of interviewees agreed with the students’ dismissal but disapproved of the university keeping the tuition.

The dismissal sparked public outrage, as many felt that the punishment was too harsh. According to a survey conducted by Boston.com, 51 percent of interviewees agreed with the students’ dismissal but disapproved of the university keeping the tuition. This may reflect how the United States as a whole has not been taking the regulations as seriously as other countries have, with 27 percent of Americans choosing not to wear a mask in public according to BBC.


“The decision by Northeastern to dismiss those students for violating social distancing guidelines is entirely warranted. The students were jeopardizing both their health and the health of those around them; even if they all tested negative, inaction from Northeastern’s end would have set a dangerous precedent. Still, choosing to keep their tuition, instead of refunding it, even partially, seems to just add insult to injury for these students,” Senior Edward Hwang said.


The students were jeopardizing both their health and the health of those around them; even if they all tested negative, inaction from Northeastern’s end would have set a dangerous precedent.

Furthermore, several universities and colleges in the United States have been influenced by Northeastern’s decision. The New York Times detailed that Purdue University has also suspended 36 students for partying, and the University of Connecticut removed several students for a dorm gathering without masks.


Other colleges have taken a milder approach: when Iowa State University discovered a huge party that consisted of hundreds of students all violating social distancing, administrators sent letters to students and parents explaining the university’s situation and limitations in current circumstances. Many universities are trying to send a message of unity to their students instead of threatening punishment. On the news program Greater Boston, Julia Marcus, a public health researcher and infectious diseases epidemiologist from Harvard Medical School, warns that harsh retribution will only discourage other students from reporting their symptoms and participating in contact tracing.


“Following social distance rules is important to keep everyone safe, so it needs to be taken seriously. However, students are excited to meet people again and catch up with friends. The school’s purpose should not be to discourage kids, and having strict punishments means students cannot adjust to school,” Freshman Amber Lu said.


...opening the campus prematurely risked the health of both students and teachers, and universities must also shoulder part of the blame.

Colleges are not implementing rules without reason; many have seen outbreaks of COVID-19 spread rapidly on campus after reopening. As stated by The Washington Post, almost every major university that reopened in-person has reported a surge in cases. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill switched from a hybrid curriculum to purely online because of an outbreak that spread to 130 students within days, and the University of Notre Dame suspended in-person classes for two weeks due to an outbreak caused by parties that rapidly spread to 147 people.


Although students should act responsibly in the midst of a pandemic, opening the campus prematurely risked the health of both students and teachers, and universities must also shoulder part of the blame. Universities cannot prioritize regaining the lost revenue from COVID-19 over the health of the students, professors and staff, nor can they expect students to behave perfectly—universities must acknowledge that students want to socialize with other students. While partying cannot go unpunished, the school must recognize its own role in enabling such behavior and create monitored spaces for students to interact safely.

 

About the Contributors

Dhruv Anish

Staff Writer


Dhruv Anish is a junior at Leland High School who is a staff writer for the Charger Account. He likes to watch movies and listen to music in his spare time. His favorite actor is Robert Deniro and his favorite movie is The Godfather: Part 2.







Norah Shen

Staff Writer


Norah Shen is a freshman at Leland High School and is a new staff writer. She likes to read, listen to music, and relentlessly tease her younger sister.

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