Quinnipiac University officials said 11 students residing on their Mt. Carmel campus in Hamden have been sent home for a month for violating the school’s COVID-19 social policy, while a dozen other students living off-campus have been suspended.
“In three residence halls, people violated the gathering requirement expectation that we had and then there were three students who violated the guest policy,” said Dr. Tom Ellett, the university’s chief experience officer.
“When you have a college campus with students that are looking for social interaction, you're obviously going to have those few students that make the choice to disregard the rules,” said Sophia Marshall, president of the Student Government Association. "However I do warn them, I think some choices that can be made like that could really determine whether we stay here on campus for the rest of the semester."
Indoors, on and off-campus gatherings are limited to 10 people. Additionally, students living in the dorms can only invite guests from their own residence hall to their rooms.
Vanessa Blasi, who sits on the freshman board that advises students about what’s working and what isn’t said she thinks the current policies are fair.
“We’re all trying to stay on campus this fall and this spring and the upcoming years. Nobody wants to go home, nobody wants to do what we did in the spring again,” she said.
The education won’t stop for the suspended students. Instead, they will continue to learn remotely until they’re allowed back on campus, which will require a negative COVID-19 test.
"What can we do to keep the bubble protected? How do we keep your students safe from COVID-19?” Ellett questioned.
So far, there’s been just one positive case since the school year started.
The length of suspension the 12 off-campus students will have to serve will be determined during conduct hearings next week.
“If we have a preponderance of evidence in a situation where we think there could be a harm to the community, and with COVID-19 we do see that as a harm to the community, we can take an interim action so there’s an interim suspension until we actually have the conduct cases heard,” Ellett explained.
The pandemic has paused much of the social life on college campuses.
"It's difficult when you can only hang out with the people who are in your dorm room,” Blasi said.
"You can't just go up to people and talk to them,” added Marshall.
The university said it's trying to maintain a social atmosphere and give students safe alternatives to the large gatherings that are common on and off college campuses.
“We've seen a lot of participation in these events, particularly because students don't have a lot of activities off campus that they're able to do,” Marshall said.
From movies under the stars to lawn games, Quinnipiac has planned activities to keep students engaged. Marshall said the school just released a list of 140 activities and events on and off-campus.
"We've had bingo nights under the tent, we've had trivia nights on Zoom,” said Ellett. "All things that separate students, but combine them."
"I was very nervous that I wasn't going to be able to connect with people and everything, but I think that the college experience has been great so far,” said Blasi.
She’s hopeful her fellow students will follow the rules so that fun can continue on campus.
"I think that they have to pay attention to everyone else and that it's not just about what they want to do on the weekends, that all of us want to stay,” she said.