Families of several of the 11 Northeastern University students who were dismissed after allegedly gathering in a hotel room have hired a New York-based attorney.
Northeastern University announced last week that 11 first-year students had been dismissed after they were found gathered in a room at the Westin Hotel in Boston earlier this week in violation of university and public health protocols aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
"Northeastern and its community of students, faculty, and staff take violations of health and safety protocols very seriously," Madeleine Estabrook, senior vice chancellor for student affairs at Northeastern, said in a statement last week. "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."
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The school said at the time that any payments they have already made are not refundable. Attorney Brett Joshpe, representing some of the families, took issue with that.
"Northeastern has deliberately defamed and humiliated these first-year students and their families, while attempting to rob them of over $36,000. Contrary to the false and misleading accounts from University officials, these students had all tested negative for COVID-19 multiple times," Joshpe said in a statement. "They were not 'partying,' but watching a basketball game while wearing masks. Northeastern would have the public believe they are trying to protect the community's health, but they seem to have no regard for students' emotional or mental well-being. Meanwhile, they are giving students T passes and encouraging them to take public transportation, far more dangerous than watching TV on campus. Their policies are illogical, unclear, and imperious."
All of the students have the right to contest their dismissal at a hearing, the university said.
The Westin Hotel is one of several Boston hotels being used to house students at local colleges and universities due to the pandemic.
The 11 students who were dismissed were all enrolled in the N.U.in Program, a study abroad experience for first-year students. Over 800 students in the program are currently staying in 2-person rooms at the Westin, which is located less withing a mile of the Northeastern campus.
Northeastern said the gathering of 11 students was discovered last Wednesday by two N.U.in staff members who were on call and making rounds of the building. The staff members took down the students' information and sent them back to their individual rooms.
Last month, Northeastern threatened to expel any students not following COVID-19 guidelines after an Instagram poll asked incoming students whether they planned to party when they arrived on campus. Official letters sent to 115 students threatened to rescind their admission if they didn't send a reply acknowledging that they would comply with the school's code of conduct.