UVM imposes stricter punishment for COVID violation

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – The University of Vermont is imposing stricter punishments for students in violation of COVID guidelines.

Effective immediately, students could be considered for suspension after only one violation.

Administrators say as cases rise, these new sanctions are necessary but students think the crackdown on gatherings too harsh.

Vice President Gary Derr says any student caught convening with other students — no matter how little or big the group — will be considered for suspension.

“It doesn’t mean we’re going to go right to suspension but it says that suspension is a sanction that we’re going to consider sooner in term of a violation,” Derr said.

Derr says the violation will be reviewed for suspension by the Center for Student Conduct. If they decide to move forward with suspension, on-campus residents will have 48 hours to pack up and leave campus.

Derr says students will forfeit their room and board and tuition money.

Reporter Erin Brown: “Well, that’s a pretty hefty punishment.”

UVM Vice President Gary Derr: “It is. Yeah, yeah. And we hope not to use it.”

Some students think the university is targeting the wrong people.

“They’ve put way too much emphasis on getting kids on those little things like the one person over capacity in a common room type thing when there’s massive parties happening elsewhere on campus and people not wearing masks,” said freshman Cedulie Benoit-Smith.

“They aren’t addressing bigger problems that they should be looking into such as instances where there are gatherings of ten or more people without masks,” said freshman Caroline Flynn. “Stricter rules for suspension– I think they’re headed in the wrong direction with that.”

Other students say they don’t think the student body will have any issues complying.

“Like I said, it’s a safe community,” said freshman Chase Drinkwater. “Everyone wants to be safe, promote safety, trying not to get sick so it really comes naturally.”

The university is also increasing testing. For the first two weeks of March, students will be required to get tested twice a week instead of once. Derr says this will help the university identify cases sooner and move students to quarantine faster. He says they will reassess at the end of the two weeks to decide whether they want to extend it.

Copyright 2021 WCAX. All rights reserved.

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