The University of Missouri (MU) is the first school in the University of Missouri (UM) system to take action against students violating coronavirus guidelines. The university has expelled two students, suspended eight and placed 14 others on probation for violating both university specific guidelines and health regulations of Boone County, where the university is located.
“Students are indicating that this was something that showed them that we were taking it seriously,” said Christian Basi, director of media relations for MU and the UM system, in an interview with UNews. “They needed to make sure that they were taking the appropriate steps to protect themselves and others.”
MU has had a large number of students test positive for coronavirus since Aug. 19, totalling 1546 cases. The university is still allowing students to remain on campus and continuing to hold in-person lectures. But the number of active cases is trending down, said Basi.
“Our cases have gone down dramatically,” he said. “We only have 91 active cases. That’s 86 percent decline from our peak on September fifth, when we had 683 active cases.”
UMKC has set similar guidelines for remaining safe and preventing the spread of coronavirus on campus, though it has not taken any such disciplinary action.
Hope Romero, a senior at UMKC, said that because of her position as an RA at the Oak residence hall she understands why the MU administration punished students.
“I understand where MU’s administration was coming from just because I’m also in the position of having to enforce those guidelines here at Oak Street,” Romero said. “I don’t feel like it was too harsh of a punishment, because, here at Oak, we’re doing all we can to make sure students are safe and their health is priority.”
Kelsey Keith, a communications major at UMKC, is a strong advocate for wearing masks, social distancing and staying quarantined as much as possible.
“I absolutely think that’s justified,” Keith said regarding the punishments of the MU students. “They are putting everyone’s health and safety at risk with their selfish actions, and they should not only be punished but also removed from the university.”
Keith said she believes people need to be considerate of the current times and remain safe as much as possible.
“The guidelines were laid out and people blatantly violated them,” she said. “They are putting others at risk which creates a bad learning environment.”
Sophomore, Daniel Garaycochea, criticized MU rather than the students who violated the COVID-19 guidelines.
“I think the way that Mizzou has and currently is handling the pandemic has been lackluster,” Garaycochea said. “The harshness of suspending and expelling students due to failing of precautions are based off of how they look to social and news media, more than the health and well-being of students.”
Garaycochea said he feels that MU is taking harsh actions now due to their lack of accountability since the beginning of the semester.
In messages to students, MU has emphasized the personal responsibility of students for the well-being of others.
“As we go into our first football weekend of the season, it’s no exaggeration to say that our choices could have a lasting impact on others,” said MU Vice Chancellor Dr. Bill Sackman. “Make decisions that keep us all safe, and don’t host or go to parties.”