Purdue suspends 36 students after party violates new COVID-19 health guidelines

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Three dozen students at Indiana's Purdue University who attended a party on Wednesday night have been suspended for violating the school's coronavirus safety pledge.

Less than 24 hours after Purdue President Mitch Daniels made it a violation to host or go to a party that didn't follow stringent COVID-19 health guidelines, a university spokesperson confirmed that the Circle Pines Cooperative and attendees of an event at its house — 36 students in total – had received summary suspensions.

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An independent student newspaper at Purdue reported Thursday that campus police had responded to a noise complaint late Wednesday evening and that a GroupMe message from the director of Orientation Programs, Craig Johnson, said: "none of [the attendees] had masks on" when authorities arrived at the scene.

The Board of Trustees adopted the Protect Purdue Pledge in May. A breach of the pledge is now listed in the same "category" as academic dishonesty, hazing, possession and distribution of drugs and destruction of university property.

“Purdue University has been clear and consistent with our messaging to students about the Protect Purdue Plan and the expectations they would need to follow if they made the decision to be on campus this fall,” Katie Sermersheim, Purdue’s dean of students, said in a statement released on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, everything we have done – the months of planning to give our students the opportunity to continue their educational pursuits in person – can be undone in the blink of an eye – with just one party or event that does not follow the rules and guidelines,” she added.

School officials said that, under current conduct procedures, the organization and students facing punishment will have a chance to appeal the interim suspension. A final verdict would be rendered after a full hearing process.

On Friday, the Protect Purdue Health Center announced it would mandate regular coronavirus testing for both students and staff.

Purdue is not the only college dealing with such infractions as schools usher in students for the fall semester.

On Thursday, Indiana University took to Twitter after a video of students partying went viral, calling the gathering "unacceptable" and threatening an all-virtual school year.

At upstate New York's Syracuse University, 23 students were suspended following a large gathering of freshmen on the quad on Wednesday evening.

Penn State University's president admonished his student body on Thursday, on the heels of reports of "crowds of students congregating in large numbers" without wearing masks.

"Do you want to be the person responsible for sending everyone home?" he asked.

Returning to in-person learning amid the pandemic was always a gamble for colleges and students alike.

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A number of other schools, including Michigan State University, Notre Dame University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were forced to alter their plans over the past week.

There are now more than 5.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States, and over 174,000 Americans have lost their lives to the disease, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

The Indiana Department of Health reported an alarming 955 new cases on Thursday with 11 more deaths, bringing the total confirmed cases to more than 83,277 with almost 3,000 dead.

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