At least 700 students have been sanctioned for COVID-19 violations


Cynic file photo

Annie Stevens makes a phone call at a student protest for racial justice Feb. 22, 2018 in front of the Waterman Building.

Although 700 UVM students have already been disciplined for COVID-19-related violations just four weeks into the semester, students still congregated in large crowds without masks this past weekend.

Vice Provost Anna Stevens said 700 students have been held accountable for COVID-19 related violations in a Sept. 24 statement to the Cynic. However, just three days prior, VTDigger reported that only 300 students had been disciplined for COVID-19-related violations in a Sept. 22 article, citing an email statement from UVM Spokesperson Enrique Corredera. 

The penalties students have received range from warning and parental/guardian notifications, to educational sanctions, to fines and probation to suspension according to the email from Stevens.

Stevens also sent an email to students Sept. 27 warning them that risky behavior could close the school. 

“Yesterday, I learned that large crowds of college-aged students were gathered at North Beach and Leddy Park,” the email stated. “Large gatherings can be ‘super-spreaders’ of COVID-19; it only takes one positive case to infect hundreds.”

UVM First-year Victoria Smeltzer, who was at North Beach Saturday, said she thinks students have become too relaxed about masks and social distancing because of UVM’s low COVID numbers. 

“There were a lot of people and obviously no masks,” Smeltzer said. And honestly, I don’t think it’s any different to what was happening at the beginning of the year either.”

Smeltzer, who was fined $250 for missing her test, said she thinks UVM’s sanction policy is fair but wishes the rules were better laid out.

“I wish that they had given me 24 hours to comply before they fined me,” she said. “But there has to be consequences. Otherwise, people are just not going to do it.”

Smeltzer said she is considering trying to fight the fine and that she’s spoken with other students in similar situations who forgot their COVID test.

“I think most people who get fines are going to be upset that they’re fined and are going to try and fight it,” she said. “It’s just a matter of what the university is going to accept or not.”

According to the Center for Student Conduct website, students can submit an appeal in a “shortened window” for COVID-19 violations.

In order to protect student privacy, Stevens said the university is not going to be providing a breakdown of all the penalties that have been administered to students. 

Although most students are complying with the Green and Gold Promise, Stevens said the University is handling conduct violations properly.

“We have made it clear to students that we intend to hold them accountable for behavior that violates the Promise and can interfere with our efforts to keep the community safe,” she said.

According to UVM’s student conduct page, students are fined $250 for missing their COVID test once, and are suspended for missing it twice. 

The same policy is in place for other egregious violations of the Green and Gold Promise, including hosting an indoor event of more than 10 people, failing to wear a mask or social distancing.

Non-egregious violations include forgetting your mask and attending a hosted event without a mask, and result in an educational sanction after the first offense, a fine after the second and a suspension after the third. 

“I accept the fact that they have to be really strict about rules here,” Smeltzer said. “Because it’s a pandemic. It’s not just like the flu. It’s a serious, serious thing.”