Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Some colleges see controversy for COVID-19 response

Courtesy of Wikimedia
The city of Boston

As students settle into the fall semester both online and in person, some have become increasingly frustrated with their university’s response to COVID-19. 

At Boston College (BC), students were told that before arriving on campus, effective safety procedures would be put in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19. However, several BC students told The Journal that many of their peers have only been tested once or twice since arriving on campus nearly a month ago. 

“Boston College’s response has largely been reactive rather than proactive… I would have hoped that they went beyond preliminary planning, provided more transparency with their processes and gave a united message from administration,” said a student who wished to remain anonymous, and who has been tested twice since moving back to campus on Aug. 23. 

Since BC began testing in mid-August, 122 people on campus, including 120 undergraduate students, have tested positive for the virus, according to a Sept. 18 statement from the college. Boston University has reported 102 positive cases, while Northeastern University 54, the statement said.

BC saw a 73-case spike on its campus during the week of Sept. 7, but the number of new cases has since declined, according to the statement.

BC student Brenna Reilly, who is a member of the Class of 2022, said the college does consistently wipe down surfaces in public spaces and set clear social distancing markers and guidelines. But she said much more needs to be done, especially when it comes to testing more frequently. 

“Many of the Boston area schools seem to be taking much greater precautions, and I think we definitely need to as well. So far I’ve been tested three times (once during move-in, and twice randomly),” Reilly said. 

Suffolk University requires all students living on-campus to be tested twice a week and all commuter students to be tested once a week. Other schools in the area, such as Harvard, are requiring students to be tested one to three times per week. MIT has set up a mobile walk-in trailer for testing, and Boston University has conducted about 134,000 tests since July 27

For students who violate COVID-19 safety guidelines, the disciplinary actions taken by schools are rather serious. Northeastern University, Suffolk and others have stated that if students are found to be in violation of guidelines, they could face suspension from residence halls or dismissal from the university. 

Suffolk University spokesman Greg Gatlin said that Suffolk is strictly enforcing all policies pertaining to COVID-19.

“We have made it clear to students that we are taking a zero-tolerance approach to egregious violations,” Gatlin said. 

Violations of COVID-19 guidelines at Suffolk include hosting or attending large gatherings on or off campus. Students who break this rule will receive an immediate interim suspension from Suffolk housing and the university’s campus until they receive a discipline hearing, according to Suffolk’s guidelines. 

The university informed all students of the guidelines through emails and announcements, and even required students at the beginning of the fall semester to agree to adhere to the policies put in place through Suffolk’s “Power of One” pledge. 

“Care and safety is our guiding principle this fall. We take very seriously our responsibility to operate our campus in a safe manner for all members of the Suffolk community as well as the broader public,” Gatlin said. 

On Sept. 4, Northeastern dismissed 11 on-campus students for not complying with the school’s health and safety protocols, according to Northeastern News. The students had gathered together in a room at the Westin Hotel, where Northeastern has housed some of its students this semester, on Sept. 2. They were told to vacate the hotel and undergo COVID-19 testing once university officials found out. 

The students were also informed that they would not receive refunds for their tuition, room and board for the fall semester. If the students wanted to challenge this, they had to undergo an expedited hearing through the school. 

New York Attorney Brett Joshpe was hired to represent two of the 11 Northeastern students said to have violated COVID-19 guidelines. 

“They were not ‘partying,’ as some have suggested, and Northeastern has deliberately set out to humiliate these students and their families by speaking to the media before they even had a chance to deliberate on the facts and evidence,” Joshpe said in a statement. 

The attorney also said the group was watching a basketball game with masks on, and that Northeastern’s response was too harsh.

Madeleine Estabrook, senior vice chancellor for student affairs at Northeastern, told Northeastern News that students must comply with with public health guidelines surrounding COVID-19.

“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,” Estabrook said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributors
Bryce Reagan
Bryce Reagan, Staff Writer | she/her
Bryce is a senior from York, Maine majoring in broadcast journalism. She loves to read and write, listen to music, explore the city, and hang out with friends. She also loves finding new and exciting things to do around Boston and back in her hometown. After graduation, she plans to try and travel as much as she can and hopefully be working in a newsroom.
Caroline Enos
Caroline Enos, Editor-in-Chief | she/her
Caroline is a senior from Gloucester, Mass. She is majoring in print/web journalism and minoring in political science. Caroline was formerly a news editor for The Journal, is currently a correspondent at the Boston Globe and was also a correspondent at The Gloucester Daily Times. When she isn't stressing over deadlines, Caroline spends her time drawing and listening to good music. Follow Caroline on Twitter @CarolineEnos Email her at [email protected]

Comments (0)

All The Suffolk Journal Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Some colleges see controversy for COVID-19 response