Four-time mask violation marks first housing suspension this year

Cooperation levels generally high but RAs have seen issues with first-year class

Though cooperation levels for new safety protocols appear to be high, issues with non-compliance have been present on campus. According to Vice President for Student Life John King, a first-year student was recently banned from university housing following a fourth violation of the mask-wearing policy. In the Student Senate meeting Monday night, resident assistants (RAs) in underclassmen residence halls shared concerns about the behavior of first-year class members.

Jeraldyn Ramirez, president of the Multicultural Student Union and RA in Maple Hall, interacts with first-year students every day. She said the policies for mask-wearing and room capacities have become a source of difficulty and she suggested emphasizing that if students continue poor behavior, they will be sent home.

“It’s a constant uphill battle with that, because they feel like there’s no consequences, ultimately because they just are getting warnings from everyone else on campus,” Ramirez said.

Director of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Diana Proto said every situation of protocol violation is different and there is no set amount of repeated violations that trigger a suspension from the university or from housing. King said he has made it clear to his staff that he believes anyone who violates protocol more than three times should be sent home.

“It’s been quite clear in my messaging, which I understand not everybody reads, because it hasn’t been the cheeriest of notes that I’ve been sending,” King said. “It’s been pretty clear our expectations and that we would send people home without a refund. Unfortunately, it will mean that we send more students home before people believe that that’s actually what’s going to happen.”

King said feedback from RAs regarding non-compliance led to the backboards of the basketball court on North Campus being removed and that he has threatened the same action on the court at Cedar Hall.

Allie DeFabritiis, public relations chair for Student Senate and RA in Cedar Hall, noticed issues with first-year students originally, saying they didn’t really seem to understand what they would be missing if they were sent home. However, after actions like the removal of the backboards, she said she always sees people with masks on when she walks by the Cedar basketball court now.

“I think that students at least at first didn’t know what they were going to be missing and now that they’re sort of getting comfortable and realizing how great this place is, that they will sort of start to comply more,” DeFabritiis said.

Looking to the future, King is worried about people rationalizing not fully complying with protocol as the university touts how well it is doing in terms of testing numbers. He agreed with student senators that more emphasis on consequences must be done.

“Whatever we can do collectively to drill that message down that we’re not out of this,” King said. “We need to have some more action steps and consequences.”