Three college students suspended, lose $16,000 in tuition after attending party unmasked

Three college students suspended, lose $16,000 in tuition after attending party unmasked

May 11, 2021

Three University of Massachusetts Amherst students were suspended after a photo of the trio was posted online showing them attending an off-campus party unmasked and breaking the campus’ COVID-related policies, the Washington Post reported. 

The families of the students pledged to fight the school’s decision after each freshman was kicked out of school, forfeiting the entire academic semester and $16,000 in nonrefundable tuition, the parents told CBS Boston. 

The photo was sent to school officials by another student after the March 6 gathering. The three female students were immediately kicked out of campus housing and attended virtual classes while the case was under review. 

After the appeals were lost, each student was cut off from virtual learning and not allowed to take their finals, CBS Boston reported.  

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“These beautiful young ladies who are honors students have had a full academic year stripped away and their paths broken of their higher education for alleged COVID violations,” one of the parents of the students removed from the school told WCVB-TV. 

USA TODAY has reached out to the university for comment.  

One of the parents said the students were treated unfairly in comparison to when the school’s hockey team returned to campus after winning the 2021 National Championship. 

“The university hosted a parade/event to celebrate the UMass hockey team’s national championship win, violating every single one of violations they accuse these girls of,” the parent said to WCVB-TV. “It also violated a standing executive order by Gov. Charlie Baker that says, ‘no parades, no festivals.’” 

Brandi Hephner LaBanc, the vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life, penned a letter to students on March 8 about the “egregious violations of policy” in regards to a subsection of students partying. 

“All students involved will have their appropriate due process, but under no circumstances will they continue as a university student in the interim,” Lablanc wrote.   

Universities from all over the country banned parties prior to students arriving on campus in the fall to curb COVID-19 cases. 

University of Pennsylvania officials asked that students refrain from organizing parties, and Tulane University threatened to suspend or expel students who throw or attend parties that have more than 15 people. 

“Do you really want to be the reason that Tulane and New Orleans have to shut down again?” the message to students said. 

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