Inequitable punishments given out by UMass Amherst administration

Inequitable punishments given out by UMass Amherst administration

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Jane Doe started this petition to University of Massachusetts Amherst

In early March, a picture of three UMass students from Instagram was sent in by another UMass student to the student conduct office. The picture shows the girls off campus within their social bubble with their masks off, 6 feet away from everyone else surrounding them. As a result, the school deemed this behavior both “reckless” and “disruptive” and chose to suspend them.

A suspension entails the following:

- Immediate removal from housing with no refund
- Loss of meal plan with no refund
- Loss of credits with no tuition refund
- Inability to sign up for fall on-campus housing
- Inability to enroll in any fall semester classes
- Need to complete a re-enrollment application to get back into UMass

Although these girls received suspensions, they appealed the decision several times so they could continue with their schoolwork. The suspension was not finalized until May, so they had finished the entire semester’s work without receiving any credit for their hours of schoolwork. These girls were first time offenders who had not been in any previous trouble at the University, despite the school’s strict on-campus guidelines. There was no prior warning that this behavior would constitute a suspension. There was only official mention of a suspension from the university after the incident occurred. This punishment is setting all three girls back an entire academic year and drastically affecting their future in college, destroying their opportunity at higher education.

Meanwhile, in early April, the UMass Hockey Team won the national championship. The night of the win, more than a thousand people raided the Southwest horseshoe where fireworks were set off and chairs were smashed. The next morning, when the team arrived back on campus, hundreds of students congregated to form a parade to celebrate their victory. UMass sanctioned this event and set up ropes so that students could stand behind them. After these events, the school did not send out any kind of message to the UMass community for these actions. These students violated the same COVID guidelines that the girls were found responsible for.

It is clear that the punishments inflicted on these girls are not consistent with the rest of the UMass student body. I am not saying that the UMass hockey team should be punished, but rather that the school should give these girls another chance to prove themselves. Mistakes were made, but their actions absolutely did not constitute the severity of their punishment, especially relative to the University's response to far more dangerous events.

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