The University of Massachusetts Amherst suspended three freshman students this month, banning them from taking final exams after a photograph surfaced showing the three young ladies outside at an off-campus party without face masks.
The parents have hired an attorney and plan to sue after the school denied the students the ability to finish the semester, forfeiting their $16,000 tuition and denying them any credits for their courses.
The students and their parents have not been identified in media reports — with reporters only identifying a few of the parents by first names. One of the students was valedictorian and class president of her high school.
“One little thing happens, and you’re out? Not even like, ‘Don’t do it again. Here is some probation?’” one parent told CBS Boston.
The party photo was reportedly taken in March. It is unclear if the students had been vaccinated. Most states were not vaccinating young adults at that time.
Still, the fight over the suspensions follows an announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that vaccinated people do not need to wear a face mask outdoors.
The students and their parents also complain that the school did not punish the men’s hockey team in April when it celebrated outside maskless after winning the 2021 National Championship.
“I just want the university and the administration to be equitable and fair,” said another parent.
The school did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Students received a number of public health messages this semester that emphasized the importance of following public health protocols and the consequences for not complying, and those messages were also shared on UMass social media channels,” the school said in a statement to CBS Boston last week.