On Thursday, February 18, a 35-person party was broken up by Community Living staff in a One Butler Court dorm. Of the 35, 12 were student-athletes, with nine belonging to the same team. The 12 student-athletes were sent home for two weeks to follow quarantine orders, and the team in which the nine athletes belonged to were placed in an athletic suspension period that will last another two weeks, starting immediately after the first two weeks wrap up. The athletic suspension means they cannot practice, compete or do anything that has to do with athletics.
The Equinox believes the actions of these athletes were disrespectful to the entire athletic department. The amount of time, energy and money that went into testing athletes for COVID-19 and making sure they are healthy is undoubtedly a huge investment. For student-athletes to ignore this mandate is almost a slap in the face to the athletic department.
The party took place two days after an athletic department-wide meeting which listed the consequences of partying and violating Keene State College’s COVID guidelines. Because of this, The Equinox’s position is furthered, as the rules were communicated clearly to the athletes, and some of them still decided to go and party.
Although the student athletes were punished for four weeks, The Equinox believes this was not enough. A group of students was sent home for the Fall 2020 semester for gathering in a group just over 10 people. Students who forgot to get tested last semester were punished quite harshly by the Student Conduct Office, and even included a long-term academic suspension. While The Equinox does not condone these actions at all, The Equinox would like to see the party-attending students be treated equally as those earlier mentioned. The Equinox believes that it is important for the college to maintain consistency in fairness to all students. To our knowledge, the 12 student-athletes will be returning to campus and will eventually be able to return to sports.
The Equinox believes that a party of 35 shows the true character of these students – as well as a lack of respect and care for others. The Equinox thinks that, because of the town hall meeting the student-athletes attended just two days prior to the party, the athletes should have clearly understood that they were breaking the rules. Other athletic teams such as the men’s basketball team have shown that compliance with these guidelines can help them attain an uninterrupted season.
The Equinox also believes that the non-student-athletes who were involved in the partying should be held to the same standards as their student-athlete peers. Although the non-student-athletes were not a part of the athletic meeting, all students are still explicitly told to not host or attend gatherings with more than 10 people.
These students not just broke the school rules, but also put the entire school population at risk.
In conclusion, The Equinox believes the student-athletes that attended this party should be punished more than they were. For student-athletes to party, despite the amount of resources spent to make an actual sports season work, is, frankly, disrespectful to the entire athletic department that worked to make this happen. Student-athletes should not be favored within the conduct system, as it seems they have been. These students have acted in a way that is telling of their character and they should face the necessary consequences, even if it means being sent home for the semester.