University demands 25 hours of community service after student ignored COVID test rule
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URBANA, Illinois, March 3, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (UIUC) put a PhD student on probation and demanded he complete 25 hours of community service for failing to get tested for COVID-19.
Chen, a 4th-year international doctoral student, had been working off-campus and mostly sheltering in place with his mother, who was at high risk for the virus and relied on Chen as her primary caregiver. The university requires even remote students to submit COVID-19 test results in-person twice a week if they live near-by, though Chen rarely ever came to campus, according to The College Fix.
“He didn’t know he was supposed to get tested until the spring semester, until December basically,” a member of the university’s Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) said. Chen eventually was exempted from the testing requirement after applying for a waiver late in the fall semester.
Nevertheless, Chen still received a disciplinary notice in December for testing non-compliance earlier in the term. A disciplinary hearing in January, which lasted 10 minutes, resulted in a one-year dismissal from the university for Chen, as well as a total ban from university property, the GEO said. The terms of his re-instatement included 80 hours of community service.
In response, the GEO launched a petition, which has garnered more than 40,000 signatures, calling for an investigation and a reversal of the expulsion. Chen and his mother risked losing their visas and were subject to possible deportation in the meantime, the GEO said.
“If the GEO and the University are unable to reach a mutually agreeable compromise, we will be forced to enter the lengthy process of legal arbitration, which may take up to one year,” the petition reads, slamming the university for showing “no sign of empathy.”
The backlash apparently worked, with the student discipline committee reconvening last month and holding Chen’s dismissal “in abeyance” until graduation, in an updated notice. He still has to write two 1,000-word essays and do 25 hours of community service, the GEO said.
The University of Illinois previously had made headlines for extraordinarily harsh COVID-19 measures, including after the school sanctioned over 100 students in one week for not complying with anti-virus rules last fall.