Oct 2, 2020 | By Hank Bedingfield | Photo by John Le

Why is it that there are so many colleges still offering in-person classes, still housing students in dorms, and still feeding students three meals a day, while Colorado College is almost entirely online? The answer may be discipline.

Colorado College embraced a “culture of commitment and responsibility,” as acting Co-President Mike Edmonds told The CC COVID-19 Reporting Project, and now its in-person campus is largely closed.

Before the majority of students were sent home, the CC administration scrambled — in a similar position to all small, liberal arts, private colleges — to decide on proper disciplinary guidelines to pair with new social protocols. Enforcement would be a key component in wrangling hordes of rowdy students and breaking down any hopes of college-as-usual.

The CC administration emphasized honesty and honor.

“To me, it’s an extension of our concept of honor,” Co-President Edmonds told journalists. “If students are in fear of disciplinary action, they may not provide accurate contact-tracing information.”

This message of forgiveness and amnesty is echoed on the college website, where CC’s message of enhanced social distancing protocol lacks the threatening punctuation that documents from other colleges include.

One person asked on the college’s FAQs page, “Will the college take disciplinary action against students who tested positive for COVID-19 and didn’t follow the risk mitigation protocols?” The college answered, “We cannot share medical, disciplinary, or identifying information about any students who test positive.”

Comparably, both Colgate and Colby paired severely restrictive social distancing policy with drastic enforcement measures, and were vocal about it.

“Those who do not adhere to these expectations will face significant disciplinary consequences,” says the Colgate commitment to community health, which is just a few clicks from the home page, “including parental notification, loss of the privilege to live in residence, suspension, or even expulsion.”

“They have a zero-tolerance policy for any violation to their commitment to community health agreement,” said Jack Kelly ’23, who transferred from CC to Colgate. “You get suspended for the semester for a violation and then must write a reflection letter and have it approved to be allowed back in the spring.”

Colby has similar messages published and amplified by easy access.

“Students have already been disciplined for violating Colby’s policies, with sanctions including removal from campus,” Colby administrators wrote in clear terms. “We cannot overstate the importance of following the protocols the College has created for everyone’s safety, and we take violations very seriously.”

Faced with unprecedented chaos, Colorado College has sent most of its students home, some of whom wonder if this was avoidable.

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