About 80 UK students face COVID discipline; far below UA

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The University of Kentucky has had about 80 student conduct reports related to coronavirus infractions so far this semester.

But that’s far fewer than some other SEC schools.

According to UK spokesperson Jay Blanton, UK has had “about 80 different student conduct reports…related to COVID-19 issues. Sanctions have ranged from interim suspensions to warnings for a first-time offense.”

Blanton could not provide details on what cases were related to on-campus or off-campus infractions or how may resulted in suspensions or warnings.

Two weeks after students started returning to campus and just before classes started, the university issued a warning and reminder to students that new coronavirus rules fell under student behavior and discipline. That came after a series of weekend parties that attracted large groups of students and raised concerns about the spread of the coronavirus among students.

Since then, the university has been more proactive in monitoring those potential situations, including retesting some 5,500 students who were associated with campus hotspots, especially fraternities and sororities.

UK’s numbers are’t early as high as some other SEC schools.

For instance, at least 639 University of Alabama students have been sanctioned in recent weeks for breaking COVID-19 restrictions in Tuscaloosa.

Thursday, a UA spokesperson told the Montgomery Advertiser a suspension of one student organization is pending, while 33 individual students have been “effectively” suspended from campus while their “conduct cases proceed through due process.”

The university did not respond to a question on how many of the sanctions related to on-campus or off-campus infractions. UA did not identify the student organizations under investigation.

“Student suspensions could range in length depending on the severity of the conduct,” spokesperson Deidre Stalnaker said in a statement emailed the newspaper. “… If a student is suspended, they will not be allowed on the UA campus during their suspension, including any on-campus residence.”

According to the newspaper, UA’s website states a first infraction would result in a written warning, and violations after the third violation could result in suspensions. 

“Repeat offenders will face increasingly greater sanctions,” UA’s website states, the Advertise reported.  “Egregious offenders will be met with significant sanctions up to and including suspension after as little as one offense. Given the expectations for compliance and the need to mitigate risks, leniency in the implementation of sanctions will be limited.”

UA has recorded 1,935 cases among its student population between Aug. 19 and Sept. 3, an exponential rise in positive cases in just a few weeks time. The university is expected to release updated data on Friday afternoon, the newspaper said.

As of Sept. 3, nearly 40% of designated housing for COVID isolation was occupied on UA’s campus.

Shortly after students moved back on campus, UA released new restrictions focused on limiting visitors and closing common areas in residential buildings, which include Greek houses and dorms. All dining on the campus became grab-and-go.

Tuscaloosa leadership shuttered bars and restaurant bar service for two weeks in an attempt to slow the spike in cases.

College re-openings across the nation have led to significant outbreaks, and in some cases, reversals of campus re-openings — many blamed on fraternity and sorority gatherings or residential spaces. In an attempt to preserve in-person instruction, some universities are taking a hard-line approach to rules enforcement. Boston’s Northeastern University, for example, dismissed 11 students caught partying. The Boston Globe reports the students will forfeit the $36,500 tuition fee for the semester.

UA has not yet commented on financial details if students were to be suspended for the semester or permanently expelled.

“Any speculation about refunds is premature,” Stalnaker said.

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