Colleges take drastic action to punish COVID non-compliance, including...restricting WiFi?

As the spring semester kick off, universities are looking for harsher punishments to enforce COVID mandates.

At the University of Illinois, violating the COVID-19 guidelines could result in losing access to the online platform used to turn-in and view class assignments.

Universities around the U.S. are cutting off students’ Wi-Fi access and their ability to use paid University services if they do not comply with COVID-19 policies. 

At the University of Illinois, according to the Daily Illini, students who don’t follow lockdown policies could lose their access to Compass, a tool used to access and submit class assignments.

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”And I need to be very clear that students who do not follow all COVID-related expectations face university disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. Please note that this semester, students who are out of compliance may also lose access to university Wi-Fi, Zoom, Compass and other technologies,” wrote University of Illinois Chancellor Robert Jones in a January 20 email to students, which was obtained by Campus Reform.

At Boston University, students who fail to get their mandated coronavirus tests or fail to report their symptoms within 48 hours of a warning will have their Student ID Card and Wi-Fi disabled. These students also can’t participate in classes, even remotely, until they have reported back to the university. 

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At Baylor University in Waco, Texas, punishments depend on how many tests a student misses. 

”After two instances of failing to complete a weekly test, you will not be allowed to participate in University or student organization activities (All University SING, athletic events, student organization events, campus recreation sports, access to the Student Life Center for recreation, etc.). After missing three testing appointments, your WIFI access will be disabled for the remainder of the semester. After four instances of failing to complete a weekly test, you will be referred to Student Conduct Administration for disciplinary action,” according to the university’s website.

Baylor University notes that access to events and Wi-Fi are included in tuition and have yet to respond to Campus Reform on whether students would be eligible for a refund if their access is revoked. 

Charlie Letts, a student at Baylor University, told Campus Reform that he finds the punishments by his university “a little extreme.”

”Honestly, I find the punishments put in place by Baylor to be a little extreme. The wifi is something students pay for and they need in order to be successful as students,” Letts said. “I realize that Baylor is trying to enforce the testing protocol, but taking something away that hinders being a productive student maybe isn’t the best option. Especially when everyone has different views about Covid like how compliant to be with social distancing, mask wearing, etc.”

Similarly, at the University of Arizona, a recent negative COVID-19 test is required in order to continue using the university WiFi, according to AZ Central.

Campus Reform also reached out to the University of Illinois and Boston University but did not hear back in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article: Alyssa Rinelli