11 students suspended for basketball watch party, attorney says

BOSTON — Nearly a dozen students were suspended from Northeastern University last week after violating the school’s safety regulations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The students were reprimanded after gathering in a hotel room near campus. The Westin hotel in Boston’s Copley Square has been serving as temporary housing for students.

All 11 students were freshman, Massachusetts-based WFXT-TV reported.

An attorney for two of the students is battling for the students' rights, saying they didn’t violate school rules because the students were simply watching a basketball game, not partying. Plus, he said, they were all wearing masks.

“This was not a party; this was a get-together to watch a basketball game and get to know fellow classmates,” attorney Brett Joshpe told WFXT-TV. “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.”

Joshpe said the punishment is too harsh. He’s fighting to appeal the university’s decision with a goal of getting back the students' money for tuition or having the school allow them to take virtual classes.

“Even if the school’s 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,” Joshpe 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 said that on top of the excessive punishment, Northeastern’s COVID-19 guidelines were unclear.

But James Chen, a junior at Northeastern, said they were not.

“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,” Chen told WFXT-TV. “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."

Joshpe said the school’s course of action was not the right one.

Officials at Northeastern said they cannot comment on the situation during the ongoing appeals process.

See the original story at Boston25News.com.