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Lynne Weintraub: Why does UMass wring its hands on off-campus behavior?


Thursday, September 03, 2020

One recent night, a crowd of loud, maskless young adults passed by my house, which is adjacent to UMass. They were headed, no doubt, to parties in the apartment complexes down the road.

In the past, I regarded this sort of thing as an annoyance. Now I see it as a grave health threat to the community. In a recent letter to students, the Dean of Vanderbilt University wrote that “violations of COVID-19 policies and protocols, including requirements related to face mask/coverings, physical distancing, and the maximum gathering size, will be addressed through the Office of Student Accountability ... either on- or off-campus. The minimum sanction applied by Student Accountability if a student is found responsible for hosting a gathering that violates the policy will be suspension for a minimum of one semester; a first sanction may be as severe as expulsion. (Participation in) a gathering that violates the policy may also result in suspension or expulsion ...”

Given the stakes involved for all of us, I would like to know why UMass simply wrings its hands when it comes to off-campus student behavior, instead demanding the same level of accountability that Vanderbilt does.

Lynne Weintraub

Amherst