UPDATE (AUG 24, 2020 4:10 p.m.):
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Dean of Students Corey Farris said in an over the phone interview that the educational activities for students who violate the health and safety regulations will vary.
“It may be a different educational module that we develop, it might mean an educational program where they are serving as peer mentors and teaching others about how do you get together safely,” Farris said. “But it will be under good supervision because we want students to understand that whatever they did when they violated that rule, whether it was that they weren’t physically distancing — was there a party that was greater than 25, which the governor has limited us to in Monongalia Co., what is it? That educational component will depend on what the student has done.”
At each hearing, Farris said, when student conduct calls students in they will review all the information presented about the violation that is either provided by campus police, the Morgantown Police Department or if it was reported by another student. The accused student will be allowed to voice their side of things before a final verdict is made.
Farris said while he understands the need for students to socially interact with each other there is a social contract in place between them and the university that needs to be honored. He said students are allowed to have gatherings of 25 or fewer but must wear masks and remain socially distanced. He encouraged students to take part in the free Refresh activities.
“On any given day, we’re listing seven days out, we have 100 plus programs for students to choose from, for students to have fun, to engage, to meet new people, some of it is in person, some of it is online,” Farris said. “So we have lots of activities, plus we’re adding new activities. There are plenty of ways to have fun, but there are plenty of ways to do it safely so you don’t put others at risk.”
ORIGINAL (AUG 24, 2020 5:20 p.m.):
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In a news release sent out Thursday evening, West Virginia University officials said they have identified six students as part of an investigation into parties held last weekend in downtown areas near campus.
The students will be reporting to the Office of Student Conduct and will face sanctions under the Student Code of Conduct, the release said.
WVU’s Dean of Students, Corey Farris sent a letter to students reminding them of COVID-19 protocols, detailing consequences for failing to follow them and offering ways students can report violations.
You can read the full letter below or on WVU’s website:
The start of classes is just a few days away, and you are likely making plans to mark the last few days of summer break. We know that you are happy to see your friends and celebrate the beginning of another school year. As you do, I want to remind you of the behaviors you are expected to model as we continue to manage our campus during this pandemic.
Wear a mask or face covering. Practice physical distancing (which means maintaining 6 feet of separation from others). Maintain proper hygiene (which means regularly washing your hands). Monitor for COVID-19 symptoms each day.
And as you make plans, avoid large gatherings of more than 25 people in one place.
These are not new protocols. I know you have heard us say this many times over the summer and you are probably tired of hearing it. However, it is more important than ever as the semester gets underway that you take these steps.
We know you want to be with your friends. And so we are offering a wide range of activities and events, including WVUp All Night, recreation and social events where you can gather safely – within the guidelines – while you connect with others. Visit refresh.wvu.edu to see the types of activities and how to register.
However, the University is aware of parties held last weekend in the downtown areas near campus. These parties were hosted and attended by some of our students. To date, we have identified six students who will be reporting to the Office of Student Conduct and will receive sanctions under the Student Code of Conduct.
It is important to know that any student brought to Student Conduct for failing to follow WVU’s health and safety policies as it relates to social gatherings, or the state and local public health orders, will face the following:
Initial failure to comply will result in probation and the requirement of an educational activity. This probation will be reflected on a student’s disciplinary record which is made available to future employers upon request.
A second failure to comply will result in a violation of probation. The student will be referred to a hearing that could include suspension or expulsion from the University.
Student organizations also failing to follow WVU’s health and safety policies as it relates to social gatherings, or the state and local public health orders, will face possible deferred suspension or loss of recognition by the University.
We are taking the health and safety of our campus environment very seriously. The news is full of stories about universities and colleges that have recently moved to offering remote instruction only due to students not following the health and safety guidelines. Those behaviors led to an alarming increase in the number of COVID-19 cases on those campuses and the eventual closing of on-campus instruction.
I want to acknowledge that the majority of our students are doing the right things and taking the proper precautions. I want to personally thank you for demonstrating our Mountaineer Values and respecting each other. I appreciate that you are modeling the values of our University.
And for those students who think not wearing a mask one day or going to one party won’t make a difference, I can assure you that one decision can and will affect each of us.
We need be accountable for our actions – and we expect our students to keep each other accountable. You can report individuals not following our COVID-19 guidelines at go.wvu.edu/reportcovidviolations. You can also report a large party or gathering to University Police at 304-293-COPS or anonymously through the LiveSafe app.
In addition, students are expected to complete the WVU wellness survey daily, whether you will be on campus or not. This is to help monitor community conditions and understand the presence of COVID-19 even without testing. If you do not complete the test, you will receive a reminder from the Office of Student Conduct and be subject to possible consequences. If you have not completed the required COVID-19 education module or the required COVID-19 test, the deadline to do so without penalty is Saturday, August 22. Complete information is available at www.wvu.edu/return-to-campus.
We have heard from many that being on campus is important to you. This is where you want to learn. For us to retain an on-campus learning experience, it has never been more important for you to make good choices – not only for your own health, but for the health of those around you. If you choose not to – whether students, faculty, staff or community members – you will put us in harm’s way.
Let’s be a positive example for each other. Check out the Refesh Series for activities that you can do safely. Remember our Mountaineer values as you’re making your decisions. And if we all work together, we will have a healthy and successful semester.
G. Corey Farris
Dean of Students
West Virginia University