Campus News

UB responds to new SUNY-wide policy on COVID violations


Published September 30, 2020

“Your actions and behavior will help preserve the right to maintain this in-person experience for the entirety of the fall semester. ”
Christina Hernandez, interim vice president for student life

The Office of the Interim Vice President for Student Life is convening a committee charged with implementing the SUNY-wide policy for responding to COVID-19 violations among students. Chancellor Jim Malatras announced the directive on Sept. 25.

SUNY’s Uniform Sanctioning in Response to COVID-19 policy, which takes effect Oct. 1, aims to create a fair and consistent approach to COVID-19 policy violations by students by establishing sanctions for categories of misconduct.

Many of the health and safety guidelines in the SUNY policy have been in place since the start of the fall semester at UB, and are spelled out in the university’s student compliance policy.

Students will face sanctions if they:

  • Test positive for COVID-19 and then intentionally expose others to the virus.
  • Fail to adhere to isolation or quarantine orders.
  • Host or attend a prohibited on- or off-campus gathering.
  • Fail to follow face mask and physical distancing requirements.
  • Fail to complete Daily Health Check.
  • Fail to comply with COVID-19 contact tracing efforts.
  • Fail to attend at least two scheduled appointments, without a sufficient excuse, to obtain diagnostic or surveillance COVID-19 testing.

Sanctions range from restriction from all on-campus activities and classes, to permanent dismissal from the university and the inability to apply/transfer to any other SUNY institution. Many of the sanctions include a suspension with a time period of a year or more. Students who are dismissed or suspended will not receive refunds on tuition, room, board or fees, and students would be fully responsible for all amounts owed.

While there are SUNY and UB sanctions for students who violate the policy, UB officials note that the vast majority of UB students have complied with university and SUNY health and safety guidelines, as well as local and state public health mandates.

“I continue to be impressed by the commitment and actions of our UB students in the face of this challenging semester,” Christina Hernandez, interim vice president for student life, wrote in a letter emailed to students Tuesday informing them of the new SUNY policy. “As we navigate this new life on campus, it is imperative that we stay vigilant in our efforts to control the spread of COVID-19. Your actions and behavior will help preserve the right to maintain this in-person experience for the entirety of the fall semester.”


Shame on Chancellor Malatras. For some of these violations, the sanctions are excessively harsh and overly punitive, and reflect gross ignorance about the realities of brain development in adolescents.

It is my best hope that the Faculty Senates across the SUNY system protest these excessively harsh sanctions for some of these violations. We, as educators, should utilize restorative practices as a way of holding students accountable, fostering a sense of community responsibility among the students, and developing a reasonable plan for repairing the harm for students’ first violation.

I am also seriously concerned about harsh sanctions being disproportionately imposed against Black, Brown and Indigenous students. We know that institutionalized racism exists within our SUNY system. We know that in our society, and in all our white-dominated institutions, so-called uniform sanctions are not imposed uniformly nor consistently.

Diane E. Elze

I understand the need for COVID-19 regulations. However, the university should not require off-campus students to risk exposure by coming to campus for a test. Students who are supporting social distancing by opting for remote learning are completely exposing themselves to thousands of on-campus students who may or may not have been following social distancing guidelines.

Leah Nolan

These sanctions are outrageous.

Jeremy Walsh

I agree and acknowledge all of these safety protocols and will follow them while they remain intact.

Samantha Marx

I will try my best to follow all of these safety protocols. However, for some of them, like completing the Daily Health Check sent to our emails, the sanctions are much too harsh. There should be a leniency policy in effect. Also, it is very unreasonable to unnecessarily risk the health of off-campus students by demanding on campus COVID tests. Please review these sanctions and what they are applied to.

Morgan Sleiman