Northeastern University in Boston, Mass. announced that it dismissed 11 first-year students who were part of its N.U.in freshman program Sep. 2, for violating university and public health guidelines that forbade mass gatherings. The dismissal came after two university staff members discovered the students in one of the rooms of the city’s Westin Hotel.
The students and their parents were notified two days later on Sep. 4 that they must vacate the hotel within 24 hours, undergo COVID-19 testing, submit to quarantine in campus wellness facilities if positive, and then leave for the rest of the fall semester. Furthermore, their payment for the N.U.in program – a whopping $36,500 – will not be refunded as per its guidelines. However, they were informed of their right to contest their dismissal in a hearing, and that they were allowed to return to the university during the spring semester.
Northeastern University’s N.U.in program, which the dismissed students were part of, was a one-semester program that originally aimed to send students overseas. However, the pandemic prompted a change in the program to now happen in Boston. A total of 818 students enrolled in the program were staying in two-person rooms at the Westin Hotel less than a mile from the university campus. The university used the hotel as a temporary dormitory for students.
According to a statement released by the university, two N.U.in staff members discovered the 11 students in one of the hotel rooms while making their rounds. They obtained the students’ information afterwards, informing them that they will be receiving follow-up emails from the university. The staff members then sent the students back to their rooms after answering the students’ questions.
Northeastern University’s draconian health protocols follow similar measures in different universities
In the same statement, senior vice chancellor for student affairs Madeleine Estabrook emphasized that cooperation and compliance with public health guidelines is “absolutely essential” – commenting that people who do not comply with such “are putting everyone at risk.”
“Testing negative for COVID-19 is not enough,” she added.
Northeastern is taking the problem of COVID-19 seriously. A statement from the university dated Aug. 23 outlined efforts by the university to test students for the coronavirus every three days and faculty, staff and contract workers twice a week.
At the same time, students in the N.U.in program were reminded to follow public health guidelines to avoid the virus through the dormitory handbook and floor meetings. Page 2 of the aforementioned handbook explicitly bans “guests, visitors, or additional occupants” allowed in assigned rooms during the pandemic – including people in the same building.
In an Aug. 28 letter addressed to all the university’s students, Estabrook stressed the importance of following COVID-19 health protocols. In the letter, she warned students who either hosted gatherings or parties on- or off-campus, or attended one without masks and social distancing, to “expect suspension.”
The draconian health protocols implemented by Northeastern University and its vice chancellor Madeleine Estabrook are reminiscent of similar measures in place at other educational institutions to supposedly prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Oakland University in Michigan planned to track its students for the coronavirus by making them wear a “bio-button” while on campus, but the school administration scrapped its plan after backlash from the student body.
Meanwhile, the University of Miami in Florida put in place a system that allows students to anonymously report their peers who might either be infected with the coronavirus. The system also encouraged students to report anyone who does not follow COVID-19 health protocols in place.
The U.S. now has a 6.3 million COVID-19 caseload as of writing, with 189,215 deaths and 2.3 million recoveries.
Learn more about how universities and other educational institutions are addressing the coronavirus pandemic at Pandemic.news.