Group gatherings at universities…exactly how small?
Harvard eases rule slightly while Northeastern gets tough
LIMITS ON GATHERINGS at local universities are suddenly a hot topic after Northeastern University dismissed 11 students on Friday for violating the campus’ coronavirus policy on parties and meet-ups.
The incoming freshmen were found together in a room at the Westin Hotel, where 818 students are staying in order to keep them further apart and comply with social distancing rules. Students had to sign off on the school’s no-party policy, which applies both on and off campus, in order to get housing. The residence hall living guide said no guests or visits are allowed in residential bed spaces, including students in adjoining rooms.
By violating Northeastern’s policies, the students were kicked out of school for the fall semester, given 24 hours to leave campus and get tested, and told their $36,500 in tuition would not be refunded.
“A lot of people feel for the students in that they still have to pay the tuition when the semester has not even started,” said student Kelly Chan to CNN. Undergraduate classes start today, September 9. The students were dismissed September 4.
“Get to know your friends in groups of 2-5 people total,” the email said. “Socializing in small groups allows physical distance while still being able to hear each other and feel connected. We had previously recommended groups of only 2, but we are pleased to increase this to 2-5 given the success of our first few weeks on campus.”
All undergraduates who have received three negative coronavirus tests can socialize in groups of up to 10 while maintaining at least six feet of separation. While eating, they may gather in groups no larger than four students.At Emerson College, students in hotel housing were told they can only be in their rooms with assigned roommates, according to the Washington Post. Common areas at Emerson have capacity limits listed, with furniture removed to increase the number of people able to congregate but still maintain social distance. But that limit can vary from room to room.
The state guidelines are clear. Gov. Charlie Baker reduced the limit on outdoor gathering from 100 people to 50 in a single space. In smaller indoor spaces, there’s a limit of 25 percent of the area’s legal capacity, or eight people per 1,000 square feet.