Laurier students could face suspension for breaking COVID-19 rules

At the beginning of September, multiple large parties were held by university and college students across the province.

COVID-19 cases have been steadily on the rise, with 55,362 current active cases in Ontario.

Videos of student parties with attendees breaking social circle rules have been shared on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, sparking public criticism as COVID-19 numbers continue to grow.

Guidelines have recently been reduced to people within individual households, but they were previously limited to 10 people who were a part of the same social bubble together in indoor spaces.

As a result, universities have been enforcing stricter regulations and consequences surrounding COVID-19 protocols.

At Queen’s University, for instance, students who are currently living on or off campus who fail to uphold public health directives and safety measures could face code of conduct penalties that include expulsion. 

28 students at Western University tested positive for COVID-19 as a result of participating in large gatherings that exceeded social distancing recommendations.

Similar to the decision made by Queen’s, Western is also planning to “use the full force of the code of student conduct should students risk the health and safety of the community through their actions,” according to a Western COVID-19 update posted on Sept. 17.

Waterloo Reginal Police broke up a house party of over 100 university students on Sept. 7.

Wilfrid Laurier University is relying on its students to remain personally responsible and mindful of public health guidelines in order to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

As of Oct. 5, there have been 10 students since the start of the fall term who have tested positive for COVID-19 on Laurier’s Waterloo campus.

“Wilfrid Laurier University’s top priority is to keep people safe and to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The university continues to work with our partners in public health to provide students with the supports and information they need to do their part, including follow public health guidelines and avoiding risky behaviours such as attending house parties,” Graham Mitchell, director of communications and issues management at Laurier, said in an email statement.

In 2018, Laurier’s Homecoming celebrations attracted 14,000 people on Ezra Street at its peak. This year’s events were drastically different than they have been in the past.

“As we saw from the very successful and quiet Homecoming weekend, students have really taken this message to heart,” Mitchell said.

However, students who neglect to follow COVID-19 rules could face consequences under Laurier’s non-academic student code of conduct.

“We continue to count on our students to make smart choices as cases rise across the province and in the region. The restrictions on social gatherings have been lowered and tough new fines have been introduced for people who exceed gathering restrictions,” Mitchell said.

“Laurier students will be held accountable if they break the provincial rules around gathering and knowingly come to campus. The university could employ sanctions under the Non-Academic Student Code of Conduct—up to and including suspension—as required.”

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