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Email: Radford University students suspended after large gatherings

Email: Radford University students suspended after large gatherings

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RADFORD — Three students were suspended from Radford University for incidents that include “endangering conduct” and failure to comply with school’s COVID-19 standards.

The school’s official response acknowledged the suspensions and pointed to an email sent to students earlier this month outlining a no tolerance approach to public health issues. The university would not directly tie the suspensions to pandemic-related issues on Wednesday.

However, two employees — a faculty staff member and a professor — confirmed to The Roanoke Times that the suspensions happened because of incidents that were deemed to violate best practices related to the coronavirus as established by the school.

The Roanoke Times was made aware of the suspensions after obtaining an Aug. 14 email a Faculty Senate member sent to colleagues. The email stated that university President Brian Hemphill told the Senate at its most recent meeting that some students had been suspended for hosting large gatherings two nights in a row after being given a warning the first night.

A university spokeswoman gave no other specifics about that. The names of the suspended students were also not released.

One student was suspended for the academic year, while the other two were suspended for the semester, the spokeswoman, Caitlyn Scaggs, wrote Wednesday.

The Aug. 5 email referenced in the university’s response was sent to the campus students from Hemphill and Vice President for Student Affairs Susan Trageser.

“The University has a no tolerance approach for those who disregard our community’s public health and best interests. We plan to approach the beginning of the semester from an awareness, education, and outreach perspective. However, students with multiple offenses and/or blatant disregard for the health of our campus and our community will be held responsible. Sanctions could result in a number of actions, including suspension,” part of it reads.

The suspensions occurred prior to the city of Radford’s adoption of a local ordinance on gathering limitations, but following the university’s July 27 reopening, she wrote.

The city now has a gathering limit of 50, with some exceptions.

Jeff Dodson, the city’s police chief, wrote in an email Wednesday that no citations for violating the gathering ordinance have been given out, and he told The Roanoke Times last week that those who had been asked to break up events had been understanding and cooperative.

Radford Mayor David Horton — who works for the university — said this week that he did not have specific details about what happened to prompt the suspensions.

But, he said: “The city and university have long worked together on matters like these.”

A Virginia Tech spokesman told The Roanoke Times that, as of Wednesday, there was no known situation involving students being disciplined for similar reasons.

Staff writer Henri Gendreau contributed information to this story.

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