NYU students say they were unfairly suspended for going maskless at party

0

Three NYU students — including a med-school hopeful — claim they were unfairly suspended from school after photos showed them maskless at an off-campus party before the semester started.

Student athletes Elnaz “Elle” Pourasgari, Marc Santonocito and Ashley Storino all filed suit against the university last month after the trio and eight other students were suspended following an anonymous tip to the school that they appeared in the photos not social distancing or wearing masks at a party.

But the trio claims they were following state and city guidelines by holding the gathering at one of their own off-campus apartments before the fall semester had even begun and they were sticking to a tight-knit “bubble” of friends — mostly limited to the track and field team members — as per the recommended policy on Aug. 14 when the photos were taken.

“NYU believes it has the right to control its students’ actions anywhere in the universe during the students’ break,” plaintiff lawyer Karen Edler said during Manhattan Supreme Court oral arguments held via video Thursday.

Edler argued that the students received negative COVID-19 tests before the fall school year began Sept. 2.

“They don’t have any evidence … that the petitioners endangered anyone,” Edler said.

nyu-suspension-lawsuit-3

Ashley Storino, background far right, who says she was unfairly suspended for posing in photos without masks, is seen in a court exhibit photo.

nyu-suspension-lawsuit-4

nyu-suspension-lawsuit-4

Elnaz Pourasgari, far left in profile, who says she was unfairly suspended for posing in photos without masks, is seen in a court exhibit photo.

Up Next

They say two heads are better than one, but it’s…

2

View Slideshow

“The failure to have a mask on in a picture in your home doesn’t endanger anybody,” Edler said. “None of these students were sick. None of these students became sick.”

But NYU lawyer Jessica Moller countered that the timing for when the students took their coronavirus tests didn’t mitigate the risk of potentially spreading the virus during the time the photos were taken adding that the parties they attended could be “super-spreaders.”

“The students’ failure to wear masks and failure to maintain social distancing put the university community, the students themselves and the students they were with … at risk for COVID-19,” Moller told the judge.

Moller added that the students had received email warnings that the school would be strictly enforcing its return-to-school policies and that one of the students had even viewed and acknowledged watching a video on these policies the day the photos were taken.

But Edler said the students believed that the policies would only apply when the school year began, and they were following state guidelines leading up to that anyway wearing masks and social distancing when they were in public.

The 11 track-and-field students were suspended for the fall semester, will be placed on academic probation for the spring semester and have to write a research and reflection paper, Edler told The Post.

Judge Carol Edmead has lifted all of the sanctions temporarily until she decides on the entire case.

“It’s costing the parents quite a bit of money. Their lives can be ruined by suspension,” Edler told The Post.

“The suspensions will impede their ability to get internships because they will be a whole semester behind,” Edler said. “Elle does want to go to medical school, Ashley wants her MBA and Mark is a needs-based scholarship student and it could be taken away and that would put him in a position where he couldn’t attend school.”

View original post