ASU suspends students for parties but not protesting

However, similar action was not taken against a large protest on campus.

ASU announced that six students would be suspended for COVID-19 related violations.

Arizona State University reportedly suspended six students for COVID-19 related violations after taking no disciplinary action against an approximately 100 to 200 person protest.

The Multicultural Solidarity Coalition planned an August 30 march against racial injustice, titled, “It’s a Movement, Not a Moment.”

Prior to the event, Arizona State University reported 161 positive cases of COVID-19 within the community out of 32,000 who were tested. ASU President Michael Crow issued a statement further clarifying university policies related to social gatherings after a spike in cases: “Students engaged – whether hosting or attending - in social gatherings on or off-campus that do not adhere to public health protocols will be subject to suspension”

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Organizers of the protests planned to march regardless, however: “You cannot stop us, you cannot block us, we will not be silenced,” a statement from the Multicultural Solidarity Coalition said. 

According to Arizona Central, approximately 100 to 200 marchers were in attendance and no arrests were made. The university confirmed to Campus Reform that no suspensions were made either.  Days before the protest, the Tempe Police Department issued nine party citations, six of which were student-related. It is not clear whether the university took punitive action against students who were in attendance.

According to a report from ABC15, Arizona State officials said they would suspend six students for COVID-19 related infractions. The details of the suspensions are not known, but four of the students were suspended for off-campus violations while the remaining were suspended for on-campus violations. Crow submitted a letter to the Arizona Department of Health on the same day as the ABC15 report about these six suspensions, citing the four “apparent violations” for off-of COVID-19 restrictions at local establishments. That’s the same number of students who were reportedly suspended for off-campus COVID-19 violations. 

The health protocols for community safety at Arizona State require students and faculty to wear face coverings in all ASU buildings and outdoor community spaces and submit a daily health check. Frequent hand washing and sanitizing is encouraged.

“The violations which are described in the attachments to this email all occurred at restaurants on Mill Avenue in Tempe and represent the kind of undisciplined and risky activity which, if not properly addressed in a timely manner, could worsen COVID-19 spread among the ASU community and in the larger community surrounding the Tempe campus,” Crow said in the letter.

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Campus Reform asked Arizona State University if health guidelines were equally applied to both protesters and students at parties.

“[T]hese guidelines do not prohibit spontaneous expressive activities or other constitutionally protected activity that takes place in public areas of campus. However, individuals participating in such activities are subject to generally applicable ASU campus guidelines, including the requirement to wear face coverings at all times indoors or outdoor spaces (except when eating), as well as ABOR Policy 1-124 and ASU SSM 802-01,” ASU Spokesperson Katie Paquet said in a statement to Campus Reform.

Paquet added, “We corresponded with the leadership of the BAC regarding the August 30 event and they indicated in writing that they understood that our conduct expectations did not prohibit them from peacefully participating in a protest or march. The rules are clear. If a student does not follow campus guidelines and current health protocols, they could face disciplinary action under the Student Code of Conduct.”

It is not clear whether the students who were suspended were suspended for merely attending the gatherings or for failing to wear face coverings at the gatherings. Regardless, ASU’s “Guidelines for In-Person Events and Meetings,” specifically exempt “spontaneous expressive activities or other constitutionally protected activity that takes place in public areas of campus.”

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