BOSTON — After 11 freshman students were suspended from Northeastern University last week for not following COVID-19 guidelines, two families have hired an attorney to help appeal the school’s decision.
The students were initially told they had 24 hours to vacate their temporary dorms at the Westin Hotel in Copley Square after they were found congregating together in one of the rooms.
“This was not a party; this was a get-together to watch a basketball game and get to know fellow classmates,” said New York-based attorney Brett Joshpe of Joshpe Mooney Paltzik LLP. “We feel that the university has really gratuitously embarrassed and humiliated them. And obviously this is something that could go on their records for the long-term, and we want that addressed as well.”
Josphe told Boston 25 News on Saturday that the students were not partying, but instead watching a basketball game while all the students were wearing masks.
He added that both families want their fall tuition money refunded and the students names cleared.
“Even if the schools position is that this was a violation, and clearly that this is their position, a warning could have been sufficient, a lesser sanction could have been sufficient,” Josphe said. “But to dismiss them for the semester, not give them [the opportunity] to take classes online and then try to take their tuition money – their family’s hard-earned tuition money – is just totally egregious and beyond the pale.”
Joshpe claimed that Northeastern’s COVID-19 guidelines were also unclear.
Boston 25 News spoke to several students on campus Saturday that disagreed with that point.
“I just know that Northeastern sent out a very important email over the summer saying how they’re going to have very strict guidelines for social activities and gatherings, so I do believe it is in the wrong for the students to not comply with the rules, but I can definitely understand why it’s a very hard process for those parents,” said James Chun, a junior at Northeastern.
“It’s definitely a very harsh punishment, but I feel like Northeastern is trying to make an example out of that and really tell students to comply with the rules and have a safe time in college,” he added.
According to Joshpe, the teachable moment comes with too strict of consequences.
“If the school is looking to send a message or have a ‘teaching moment’ as they like to say, I certainly don’t think this was the way to do it,” he said.
Boston 25 News did reach out to Northeastern University on Saturday night for a response, but a spokesperson said they would not comment during the appeals process.
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