Boston University

BU Warns Students: Host or Attend a Large Party and Get Suspended

"If you suspend good judgment, you risk exposing yourself and others to the coronavirus and will face disciplinary action," Boston University's dean of students said

Boston University's campus
Adam Glanzman/Bloomberg via Getty Images, File

Boston University told its students Wednesday that any of them who are involved with any unsanctioned large parties or gatherings, on-campus or off, this semester will be suspended.

Likewise, student organizations or sports teams that host parties of 25 people or more -- the maximum for indoor gatherings in Massachusetts -- will be suspended as well, Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore said in a letter to students Wednesday.

"If you suspend good judgment, you risk exposing yourself and others to the coronavirus and will face disciplinary action," Elmore said.

The warning comes as students move back to campus ahead of the first day of classes on Sept. 2. Schools in the Boston area have been outlining how they're seeking to prevent the virus from spreading when students return, while other universities around the country contend with outbreaks that have, in some cases, kept the entire student body out of in-person classes.

This weekend, after 115 incoming freshmen replied to a poll on Instagram saying they'd attend parties, Northeastern University sent the new students letters saying they'd have their admission rescinded if they didn't acknowledge the code of conduct.

More than 100 incoming students responded to an Instagram poll saying they planned to party on campus.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh issued his own warning about college parties on Wednesday: "Do not have parties … be responsible. You're a college student, you want to be treated as an adult? Act as an adult."

Boston University students this semester may choose to take classes in-person, remotely or some combination of the two. For those coming back to campus, they'll have to be tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and they will be tested for the virus throughout the semester as well.

Between July 27 and Aug. 24, there have been 16,395 tests conducted on-campus, with 28 positive results, a positive testing rate that's below Boston's and Massachusetts'. To help facilitate so much testing, the university has built eight new robots that can process up to 6,000 tests per day.

But Elmore emphasized in his letter to students that holding large parties threatens the work being done by students to take tests, keep socially distant and wear face masks.

"All of your efforts, however, to protect yourself and your household could be compromised if you choose to attend a large off-campus gathering, even for a brief period," he wrote. "There will be a few students who won't take COVID-19 seriously and their stay in our community will be short-lived."

Boston University has a unique new plan to keep students safe.

Suspensions will last for the semester, and students won't be refunded their tuition or any room and board expenses. The ban on large gatherings doesn't apply to sanctioned ones, which are outlined in a BU policy.

Elmore also encouraged students to collegially remind others to follow social distancing and face mask rules. He said anyone who sees or hears about large gatherings can report them by calling 617-353-5050 at any time of day.

He concluded the letter by noting that he, too, has been looking forward to seeing people more as the community comes back together, but that he's been "more diligent" in thinking about those gatherings.

"Our actions have consequences. We have got to use our collective power to maintain an environment where we can all live and learn," Elmore said.

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