As Students Return to Campus, the College’s COVID Enforcement Efforts are Put to the Test

Max Shannon '24, Associate News Editor

As students return for the spring 2021, the college has already faced incidents of students violating community guidelines. However, President Ensign maintains that “we’re all going to be able to do this if everyone follows the guidelines.”

All Dickinson students were required to sign the Campus Community Compact before they arrived on campus for the spring semester. Among other requirements pertaining to mask wearing and social distancing, the compact stated that students who signed the document agreed that they would “neither host nor attend any on or off-campus gatherings which fail to adhere to physical distancing and/or are attended by more persons permitted” than the Center for Disease Control, state of Pennsylvania, or Dickinson College advised.

The compact stated that anyone who is found to violate the expectations stated in the document could be subject to disciplinary actions including interim removal from campus and expulsion. 

When asked about those involved with parties that violated the compact, Vice President and Dean of Student Life George Stroud said “we are holding those individuals accountable.” Stroud added that “there have been a few people already that have been asked to leave housing,” and “we are looking at some cases right now, today [Feb. 16], to be quite honest with you, in which we are making some determinations as to what we are going to be doing with folks.”

Amanda George, Associate Dean of Residence Life & Housing and Conduct, said potential violations of the school’s compact will be investigated. According to George, in extreme scenarios, the infraction will be investigated by the student conduct system. If a student is found culpable of such behavior that disrupts and harms the community, “the student will need to leave campus housing,” said George.

When asked about the issue of partying and other violations of school policy, George said “it is important to note that much of this is based on peer accountability.” Part of this accountability includes the college’s anonymous reporting system, in which any student can report another student for violating COVID restrictions. 

Stroud said that tips will always be investigated but admits that there are challenges to this system, since “quite often, the information that we are receiving in a report does not give us a location or people who may be involved in an infraction.” As a result, President Ensign emphasized the importance of being detailed with information such as the location of an incident when reporting a violation to help the school investigate a claim as efficiently as possible.

There are still ways for students to safely interact with each other on campus, though, and  George said that “students can have guests in their room if they take safety precautions like wearing a face covering and maintaining distance.” She emphasized that is it important to recognize there are ways to interact safely during this pandemic. 

Stroud said that in general, “I think the vast majority of our students are doing an excellent job at following the guidelines.” 

President Ensign said that the school will “not tolerate behavior that puts other people at risk, bottom line,” emphasizing that the school should be well prepared to tackle this virus if students follow the guidelines.