Suspended Seniors Question Decision Fairness

By Gabriela Fitzpatrick | Aquinas Staff Writer

SCRANTON – At least 10 off-campus students at the University of Scranton have been suspended after ignoring new policies set in place by administration amid COVID-19.

University administrators would not confirm the exact number of students who received a suspension. However, The Aquinas has independently confirmed at least 10 students were affected.

Some students said they felt punishments levied on those students was too harsh. Kate Donfield, 21, a senior strategic communication major at the University of Scranton, said that other house parties had been raided, but students were let off with only a warning.

“I think them suspending the people I know of, for the amount of time I’m aware of, is unfair,” Donfield said. “Especially because we’re seniors. We make it all this way and what? They have to find a new school to get a degree? I don’t think it’s fair.”

Donfield said some of the students who were suspended plan to file appeals.

“It just seems like everyone is weighing out their options,” Donfield said. “Is it best for me? Do I have a shot at winning the appeal? And I think it’s fair to ask the question, ‘Will I be treated fairly?’”

Despite these concerns, Dr. David Schweitzer, Assistant Director of Student Conduct at the University, said the punishments were well within guidelines established for off-campus conduct under the Royal Safe Together Plan.

The Plan:

  • Mandates facemasks at any gathering where those in attendance do not live at the house where it is taking place.
  • Enforces social distancing, when those gatherings do not include individuals who live at the house hosting
  • Limits the number of individuals in attendance to 25 or below—less when the space cannot properly allow 25 individuals to safely social distance.

“Those are really the three main themes, when it comes to off-campus behavior,” Dr. Schweitzer said.

Dr. Schweitzer said he believes that his role in the conduct process has not changed and that many offices are focused on educating students at the University about not only old policies but the new ones specified above.

“In our discussions with students, we’re really trying to promote adherence to the Royal Safe Together plan,” said Dr. Schweitzer. “That includes many of the guidelines that would have come from Dr. Davis’s email.”