photo: Molly Williams/The Intrepid
By Dustyn Green
ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — After an investigation that included viewing social media videos and gathering information from students, St. Bonaventure University suspended 21 students who took part in large, off-campus gatherings last weekend.
This is the second round of suspensions issued by the university since Sept. 6, when 28 students were suspended for attending a party at the university’s Garden Apartments.
“I’m extremely disappointed,” said Dr. Dennis R. DePerro, university president, in a release from the university after the first round of suspensions. “I know, because I see it with my eyes as I walk around campus every day, that the vast majority of our students are complying with the safety standards we need to abide by to allow us to finish the in-person portion of the semester on Nov. 24.”
SBU officials have had a hard time wrapping their heads around why some students are continuing to jeopardize the health of the community, according to Tom Missel, the university’s chief communications officer.
“Of course, we knew it might happen again, but for the life of me, why would anyone be this irresponsible,” Missel said. “Knowing what’s happening at other colleges that are experiencing outbreaks because of large parties, and knowing how we handled it the first time is beyond me.”
The university utilized its student affairs staff when trying to get their message across before school started.
“We’re not naive,” Missel said. “We realize that parties are going to happen off-campus.”
Missel said SBU does not want to put a halt on social gatherings altogether, but prefers that students hold smaller gatherings instead.
According to the university, the students have been suspended on an “interim basis” pending their judicial hearings, which will commence this week.
Each student must submit a negative COVID-19 test before returning to campus.
Missel reiterated that as part of the suspensions, students are able to stay enrolled in their classes and attend class via Zoom. However, their professors “are not obligated to do that.”
“Over these first six weeks of the semester, we have received advance information in large parties before the weekend and worked with the students to make sure they didn’t happen,” Missel said. “This time, we didn’t know these large parties were going on.”
Despite the suspensions, there have been reports of additional students attending the parties.
“We continue to investigate and if we receive information that others were involved, we will have to deal with them,” Missel said. “We need everyone to be rowing in the same direction if we are going to make it.”