Miami University is requiring all students that intend to return to campus in-person for the fall 2020 semester to sign its “Healthy Together Pledge” (“The Pledge”). A link to the Pledge can be found here.
Can I refuse to sign The Pledge?
Not if you want to attend classes on campus. President Crawford’s letter stated that “[s]tudents who elect to return to campus will be required to sign the Healthy Together Pledge.” (emphasis added)
What does signing The Pledge mean?
The Pledge contains an acknowledgement of your assumption of the risk (that you may become infected with COVID-19) by returning to campus, a pledge to engage in prevention (of spreading COVID-19)-including a flu vaccine, and a pledge to participate in “symptom assessment, testing, contact tracing, quarantine, and isolation” as necessary.
By “taking the pledge” you are agreeing to these terms and conditions.
Is there a penalty for violating The Pledge?
Yes. One of the acknowledgements in The Pledge is that you “acknowledge that if (you) engage in repeated, non-compliant behaviors to this Pledge, (you) may be referred to the Office of Community Standards for disciplinary action up to and including suspension or dismissal.”
In other words, violating The Pledge could result in a disciplinary infraction on your permanent record with penalties as severe as suspension or being expelled.
Aside from wearing masks, social distancing, and other good hygiene practices, is there anything else I should know about that could lead to a violation of The Pledge?
Yes. By signing The Pledge you also agree to:
- Comply with COVID-19 campus signage (directional, capacity, etc.)
- Limit personal indoor gatherings to fewer than ten people and engage in social distancing (during the indoor gathering).
- Not host or attend gatherings/parties where physical distancing is not possible.
In other words, you could face disciplinary sanctions, including suspension or being expelled, if you host or attend house parties; if you enter a party, gathering, restaurant, or bar where physical distancing is not possible; and if you ignore capacity signage or the directional instructions posted in campus buildings.
These obligations and restrictions are in addition to the Student Code of Conduct requirements that every student must follow.
What’s the big deal if I get sanctioned for violating The Pledge?
A disciplinary sanction at Miami University stays on your permanent record for at least seven years. Only after that has passed can you petition Miami University to remove a disciplinary infraction-it is not automatic; you must petition Miami University to seal your record. Most graduate school programs or university/colleges you transfer to will ask to see your disciplinary file with Miami University when considering your application for admission.
Beyond having to disclose that you have a history of disciplinary infractions, remember that The Pledge states that repeated violators could be suspended or expelled from Miami University. You have been put on notice that you may face the most serious punishment available under the Student Code of Conduct for violating The Pledge. In other words, a house party could not only lead to violating of the Code for underage consumption of alcohol or intoxication; but it could also lead to violations of The Pledge. Actions that may have resulted in “standard first-time alcohol-related punishments” in prior years could lead to more serious punishment because the actions also violate The Pledge.
Miami University disciplinary proceedings allow for each student to have an advisor. It is important that you discuss your violations with someone who is experienced in Miami University’s disciplinary process so that you understand the process and your potential sanctions. The Rittgers & Rittgers Oxford office has experienced attorneys that will be able to help answer your questions and prepare you for any disciplinary hearings.