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College dismisses students for COVID conduct violations

This story has been updated since it was originally published on Sep. 7.
MIDDLEBURY — Several Middlebury College students have been dismissed from campus for COVID-19-related conduct violations, according to an announcement by Director of Health Services Mark Peluso that was posted on the college website Sunday.
“While the overwhelming majority of Middlebury students have complied with our health and safety protocols, the Office of Community Standards has also issued a number of sanctions for non-compliance, including several dismissals from campus,” Peluso wrote.
The dismissed students were required to leave campus as soon as it was safe to do so, explained Director of Media Relations Sarah Ray in an email exchange with the Independent.
“The student may have the option of continuing their classes remotely but this would depend on whether other sanctions, such as suspension, were issued in addition to immediate removal,” Ray said.
The dismissals were announced two days before fall classes were scheduled to begin.
Middlebury welcomed 2,285 residential students to campus for the semester. All of them have been tested twice for COVID-19 and all but two tested negative. Both of the students who tested positive have already recovered, according to the COVID-19 Reporting Dashboard on the college’s website.
Campus officials did not say how many students had been dismissed, or when.
The college is currently working on another dashboard for its website, where it will provide public “aggregate conduct data,” said Ray, adding that there is also a project in place to aggregate conduct data from a number of Vermont schools to be shared with the state.
The Middlebury Campus newspaper recently reported on the college’s COVID-19 disciplinary system. 
“Besides the students who have already been sent home, a number of other students have received a sanction or removal from campus housing, held in abeyance,” the report explained. “This status indicates that if the student violates any additional COVID-19 protocol, they will be dismissed from campus.” 
Monitoring student behavior has largely fallen to student leaders and residential life staff, the Campus reported.
“Following the release of first years from room quarantine, Residential Life members noted many violations of college COVID-19 policies, including reports of large gatherings of students both on Battell Beach and near the baseball field.”
Resident Assistant Luisa Vosmik, who is a senior at Middlebury, told the Campus that several gatherings last weekend had exceeded the 10-person limit and that students were not observing physical distancing rules, even after they were repeatedly asked to do so.
Colleges and universities around the country are facing similar challenges with young students who are eager to socialize and party, and many schools are taking tough stances on infractions.
In one recent high-profile case, Northeastern University dismissed 11 first-year students for violating the school’s public protocols. According to a report at CNN.com, the students had been discovered together in one room.
Reach Christopher Ross at christopherr@addisonindependent.com.

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