Thirty-six Purdue University students were suspended Thursday after attending a gathering at the on-campus Circle Pines Men’s Cooperative house in West Lafayette.
The school cited violations of the Protect Purdue Pledge, which -- among other guidelines -- calls for the use of face masks and social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19. On Wednesday, Purdue announced any student who violated the policies of the pledge would officially face disciplinary action -- a step school trustees set in motion in May. Those violations include hosting or attending a party or event -- on or off campus -- where attendees do not abide by the pledge.
In a welcome letter to students Wednesday, Purdue Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students Dr. Katie Sermersheim said the school would be taking a “hard line” regarding parties and gatherings where mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines were not followed.
In a statement about the suspensions Thursday, Sermersheim said the university has been clear in its messaging to students about expectations around COVID-19, and that the school’s long planning process to allow students to return for in-person learning could “be undone in the blink of an eye” by one party.
“We are social creatures and yearn for human interactions and engagement with one another – no one is denying that,” Sermersheim said. “We are just asking that we put on hold large gatherings in confined spaces until this global pandemic can be better understood and controlled.”
Earlier this week, the University of Notre Dame announced a two-week stretch of remote learning for undergraduates after off-campus parties led to a spike in student coronavirus cases. The university reported 99.7% of its students tested negative for COVID-19 prior to the start of the school year.
Purdue’s most recent student COVID-19 testing numbers, released Wednesday, show a current negative test rate of 99.26%.
Purdue’s first day of classes is Monday, Aug. 24.