Starting Oct. 1 at 8 a.m., SUNY students face new penalties if they break institution or statewide coronavirus regulations.
The “emergency directive” was sent to all SUNY presidents on Sept. 25 by SUNY Chancellor James Malatras. Malatras recently visited all the campuses, including Binghamton University, where he remarked that BU was a leader in COVID-19 policy and enforcement. This directive comes after other SUNY campuses have experienced rising COVID-19 cases with a few having to shut down for several weeks.
On Tuesday, a B-Line Addition was sent to students announcing the SUNY-wide initiative. According to the Addition, BU already has many of the features included in the directive in its Rights and Responsibilities document and the addendum to the standard housing license.
“The new SUNY policy does not replace the behavioral standards set forth in these documents or the University’s Code of Student Conduct,” the B-Line Addition read. “It does establish sanctioning parameters for students who violate those standards. In many cases the SUNY policy on sanctions and [BU’s] current practices are consistent with one another. In those instances where the SUNY policy requires sanctions different than the current campus practice, [BU] will and must sanction students consistent with the Chancellor’s emergency directive.”
The penalties outlined in the Rights and Responsibilities document is consistent with the directive, ranging from revocation of student housing to restrictions on attending in-person classes. As classes began in August, Brian Rose, vice president for student affairs, said at a press conference that suspension and expulsion were not off the table.
In the Chancellor’s emergency directive, it clearly outlines that suspension and expulsion from an institution are forms of penalties for almost every action stated in the directive that goes against COVID-19 guidelines.
SUNY schools will have the jurisdiction to investigate each student case and place any interim sanctions during the course of an investigation.
A number of items on the directive were not included in the Right’s and Responsibilities document, specifically those that outline penalties for student organizations.
On Monday, Student Association (SA) Executive Vice President Maggie Koekkoek, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering, sent all SA-charted student organizations an email stating information they needed to know.
If a registered or recognized student organization has one or more members who are or could be positive for COVID-19 and that organization has hosted a gathering that violates COVID-19 regulations, the organization could be de-registered or de-recognized, either temporarily or permanently. In an email to Pipe Dream, Koekkoek wrote that she has many questions with the directive that she hopes the University will release soon.
”I wanted to use my platform to share this memo from the Chancellor with the student groups to ensure that students were aware of any potential changes in sanctions coming to campus,” Koekkoek wrote. “However, other than reading the document itself, I have not heard any additional talk or information.”
According to the directive, all SUNY institutions must send two mass notifications to their students about the directive prior to the start of the policy. BU sent one, but students are still awaiting the second as of Wednesday night.
In addition to student organizations, a direct point is made toward student-athletes, noting that if an athlete were to break COVID-19 regulations, that student could be removed from their sport and have their scholarship removed, among other penalties.
Thea Barbelet, a sophomore majoring in environmental science, said she is glad with the move by the SUNY Chancellor.
“I’m [kind of] glad to see the new sanctions as they’re basically the same rules already in place, just stricter,” Barbelet wrote. “They make me a little nervous that I might slip up and face unintended consequences, but I think they’re easy enough rules to follow. As the weather gets colder and people are forced inside, I think they’re necessary regulations for the next two months here.”
Mickenna Meyer, a sophomore majoring in biology, thinks the measure will help students.
“It’s good to see the SUNY system stepping up to protect its students,” Meyer wrote.
Erin Chun, a sophomore majoring in psychology, said the measures could cause secretive measures by students.
“I can see why the Chancellor feels the need to be stricter with the penalties associated with breaking COVID-19 guidelines,” Chun wrote. “But, I also think that the threat of suspension and expulsion could anger some students further, causing them to be sneaky and host more private off-campus events.”
A condensed version of the memo for BU students is available here:
— If a student who knows they are positive or have come in contact with COVID-19 intentionally exposes other students to the virus, the student could face expulsion or suspension from academic access and housing for at least one calendar year. During this sanction period, the student cannot be admitted to another SUNY institution.
— If a student who has been directed by the Broome County Health Department or BU to self-isolate and, afterward, intentionally leaves isolation, the student could face expulsion, suspension from academic access and housing for at least one calendar year. During this sanction period, the student cannot be admitted to another SUNY institution. Legal prosecution or fines may also be filed.
—If a student who has been directed by the Department of Health or BU to quarantine and then violates that order, the student could face suspension from housing but keep academic access under remote learning only. Other sanctions could be academic and housing suspension or expulsion.
—A host of an on-campus gathering that violates COVID-19 regulations can face suspension from housing for at least one year while keeping academic access under remote learning only. Other sanctions could include academic suspension, along with housing, for at least one year and expulsion from BU. “For covered gatherings,” those who are shown to reside in any way at the house or aided in organizing the gathering will be treated like hosts unless evidence suggests they were not involved in organizing the gathering. These sanctions also apply to hosts of an off-campus gathering, minus housing sanctions.
—An attendee of an on-campus gathering that violates COVID-19 regulations could face suspension from housing while keeping academic access under remote learning only. Other sanctions could be academic and housing suspension or expulsion from BU. These sanctions also apply to attendees of an off-campus gathering, minus housing sanctions.
—If a student is found to have repeatedly or intentionally violated mask or social distancing requirements, the student could face suspension from academic access and/or housing while keeping academic access under remote learning only. Other sanctions could be an academic and/or housing suspension or expulsion. These same sanctions apply for students who “repeatedly fail to comply” with contract tracing efforts from BU or the Broome County Health Department.
—If a student does not attend at least two scheduled appointments from BU’s surveillance testing or if they fail to submit their daily health screening on the myBinghamton Dashboard for three days straight without a “sufficient excuse,” sanctions could apply. They can face suspension, restriction from buildings (excluding health care buildings), card access restriction and remote learning-only schooling. Parking privileges can be revoked along with their car being ticketed or towed if found on campus. Once the student takes their test or submits their screening, they can gain full access to what they have temporarily been barred from.
—If a student-athlete violates any rules set forth in the memo, they could lose the ability to compete in athletics at BU, be removed from leadership positions and have their scholarship, if applicable, revoked. Depending on what rules were violated, the sanctions can be temporary or permanent.
—If a registered or recognized student organization has one more members who are or could be positive for COVID-19 and that organization has hosted a gathering that violates COVID-19 regulations, the organization could be de-registered or de-recognized, either temporarily or permanently. An organization could be suspended for at least one year. Members of the organization who participated in the gathering may lose their member or leadership status.
Detailed information on the memo can be found here.