It's been no secret that only a couple weeks into the start of the fall semester, colleges across the US are struggling to keep COVID-19 numbers down, with some schools already reporting hundreds of confirmed cases, and others quickly shutting down in-person classes a mere days after starting back up, when numbers merely reached 130 infected, as recently happened with University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
Schools have imposed strict measures while threatening severe punishments for hosting or even attending parties on or off campus, as they're considered potential "super spreader" events. In some instances schools are actually threatening expulsion. But there's rising tensions given students are complaining their high price tag college experiences are turning into "isolation prisons" - as we detailed earlier, yet schools in many cases are collecting full tuition and fees.
But now one major university is driving headlines after making good on its 'max punishment' threat, and all the while pocketing students' full tuition after they were accused of "violating social distancing protocols".
Apparently they were caught in a gathering deemed a "party" by the staff members who discovered them. Again the "party" apparently consisted of eleven people total in the room, and they happened to be housed in the same building:
"Northeastern has dismissed 11 first-year students after they were discovered together in a room at the Westin Hotel in Boston on Wednesday night, in violation of university and public health protocols that prohibit crowded gatherings," the college website News@Northeastern writes.
The students along with their families were notified Friday that they've been suspended from the school effective immediately, and have further been ordered to vacate the hotel within 24 hours. The Westin, which lies less than a mile from campus, was reportedly being used to house over 800 students who stayed two to a room.
In particular it's part of a program called N.U.in Program, described as a "study-abroad experience for first-year students".
Critics of the school's harsh punishment say the international students' actions can't even be deemed as part of an 'off campus party' - but instead it's tantamount to students simply being gathered in a dorm room.
Northeastern excessively punishes 18 year olds for acting like 18 year olds and steals their money. Is Northeastern run by cops? https://t.co/atZLcfyS7T— Keren Goldenberg (@GoldenbergLaw) September 5, 2020
Senior vice chancellor for student affairs at Northeastern, Madeleine Estabrook, issued a statement underscoring there's a zero tolerance policy for protocol violators:
“Cooperation and compliance with public health guidelines is absolutely essential. Those people who do not follow the guidelines—including wearing masks, avoiding parties and other gatherings, practicing healthy distancing, washing your hands, and getting tested—are putting everyone else at risk,” according to the school publication.
Among other things the school's new COVID-19 social distancing policy spells out in the updated N.U. handbook that "there will be no guests, visitors, or additional occupants" in student residential rooms.
Particularly outrageous and perhaps why the story is going viral online, is that the school is keeping the now expelled students' full tuition, despite the program of all international newcomers being a mere week or so in session.
According to The Boston Globe, that means the school has pocketed each student's $36,500 they already forked over. N.U. officials have confirmed and emphasized to local media there will be no refunds.
Northeastern University risks student and faculty lives by reopening prematurely during deadly pandemic and then steals over $400,000 from 11 students. https://t.co/RxGx6qkxeI— Ben Hauck 🌹 (@fightdenial) September 5, 2020
That is indeed over $400,000 in total that the university is keeping from the "busted" students, who merely made the mistake of momentarily emerging from the school-imposed isolation of their
cells rooms in order have actual human-to-human contact.
Meanwhile, out of 36,000 coronavirus tests conducted so far, there's only been 20 positive cases on the campus.