What consequences could Mississippi college students face for not following COVID-19 guidelines?

What consequences could Mississippi college students face for not following COVID-19 guidelines?
What consequences could Mississippi college students face for not following COVID-19 guidelines?

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - College students are away from home and perhaps feeling more freedom. But Governor Tate Reeves warns they can’t let that translate to ignoring coronavirus safety guidelines.

Ignoring the Governor’s Executive Orders with large house parties, for example, could mean more than a slap on the wrist for Mississippi’s college students. Because, in most instances, that is considered a violation of the school’s student code of conduct.

“We’re really trying to stress to our students and help them understand that their actions have a big impact on others and it’s not just about them,” explained Dr. Dee Dee Anderson, the University of Southern Mississippi’s Vice President of Student Affairs.

In a video message to the Ole Miss campus community by Noel Wilkin, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs also stressing the need for compliance.

“We hope that everyone will embrace their role in keeping our communities safe,” noted Wilkin. “We can be together if you follow the protocols, including when you’re not in class.”

But what if they ignore those guidelines, including the Governor’s order regarding the limits on numbers of people at a social gathering, even off campus?

“We have a whole host of options,” explained Dr. Anderson at USM. “We can do a verbal warning, an educational piece, all the way up to suspension of an individual or organization. Now, that would certainly be something that be very serious if we went all the way to that extreme. And I’m anticipating we will not have to do that.”

Mississippi State is sending a “weekend reminders” note to students. One bullet point specifically warns them not to host a party or gathering... on or off campus.

“Do not host a party or gathering in your home, apartment complex, residence hall room, fraternity/sorority house, or anywhere else. Students who do so will be subject to sanctions associated with violations to the student code of conduct to include the possibility of suspension or expulsion along with possible fines or arrest for violating local and state-wide ordinances.”-Regina Young Hyatt, Ph.D. Vice President for Student Affairs, Mississippi State University.

Jackson State University sent the following information about their current measures that are in place for COVID-19 & Student Conduct Sanctioning.

Sanctions will be determined based on the level of severity of the violation, repeated offenses, or intent. Reports, along with supporting documentation, would be submitted to the Dean of Students Office via email (deanofstudents@jsums.edu).

  • This does not apply to how faculty operate their classes. Of course, suspension is never the goal. However, the intention or impact would be based on non-compliance.
    • First Violation: Fine: $75 plus educational sanctions or possible suspension based on the severity.
    • Second Violation: Fine: $150 plus educational sanctions which includes loss of privileges (depending on the associated incident) or possible suspension based on the severity.
    • Third Violation: Possible suspension for blatant disregard for policy and health concerns of the campus community.

MUW tells us the the student code of conduct outlines the rights and responsibilities of their students, and alleged violations related to that would be addressed through their student conduct process.

Depending on the specifics of the incident, the student could face alleged violations of reckless conduct, off-campus misconduct and/or a violation of an ordinance of law. The University reserves the right to take appropriate action if the student conduct poses a danger or could negatively impact the campus community or our mission.

“The ultimate goal is to educate our students about our protocols and make sure they understand them,” explained Anika Mitchell Perkins, Executive Director of University Relations. “All of our students were required to take the Safe Owls Pledge to continue to make our campus, which also extends into the community, a welcoming place to study, work and live.”

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