Students found to be in breach of COVID-19 regulations at NUI Galway have been tasked with an unusual form of punishment. Instead of facing traditional formal disciplinary actions, administration is imposing sanctions using the thing students fear most—more homework.

Students at NUIG are being assigned 2000-word reflective essays as punishment for breaching COVID-19 regulations. The students are instructed to watch the RTE Investigates documentary, ‘The Third Wave’, and then write an essay reflecting upon what their actions could mean to their friends, family, and wider community.

NUIG Student Union President, Pádraic Toomey has described the form of punishment as “very odd.”

Unable to gain traction with forms of negative reinforcement such as fines and threats of suspension, the new punishment is designed to educate students about the consequences of their actions and instill positive change within the student community.

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The essay is not the only form of punishment meted out by NUIG. Fines, letters of apology, formal cautions, suspension and expulsion are all options at the disposal of administration.

Universities have not disclosed exact figures on the number of students found in breach of their respective COVID regulations. Most infringements have been located in on-campus accommodation with penalties varying between institutions. UCD administers fines of between €50-€250, UCC compels students to attend an alcohol education program or make charitable donations and NUI Maynooth alongside DCU suspends offenders from campus accommodation.

Since December, twenty-one COVID infractions have been reported in UCD by groups meeting up to play sports at on-campus pitches. These groups refused to comply with security staff instructions and on six occasions Gardaí were called for further enforcement. UCD has increased its security presence on-campus in response.

Sarah Eiland – Reporter