Stanford told students they weren’t compliant with weekly testing policy — but they were

Oct. 29, 2020, 11:40 p.m.

Following reports that hundreds of students may not be compliant with Stanford’s testing policy, the University sent emails to students indicating that they had not been compliant, writing that their housing privileges were potentially at risk. However, many of the recipients had been tested weekly.

The University declined to comment on a host of questions about the general status of testing on campus, leaving an incomplete picture of student compliance rates and testing trends.

The Friday evening email came amid a sudden spike in the number of COVID-19 cases on campus — 12 cases in the past two weeks, up from 0 previously — and loosening COVID-19 restrictions surrounding student activity on campus.

“Your approval to live in on-campus housing is a privilege,” read the email from the Dean of Students Office, before suggesting this privilege was “contingent” on following guidelines in the Campus Compact such as getting tested weekly. The email then went on to state that the recipient had not completed a COVID-19 test within at least 13 days and that “failure to test is considered a violation of the Campus Compact.”

Viktor Krapivin, a graduate student studying Applied Physics who received the University’s email but did get tested, said he was immediately concerned about proving his compliance to prevent punishment. Krapivin said the “first thing” he thought after receiving the email was, “will I have to go to a Campus Compact board and prove that I did take the COVID-19 tests?”

Other students expressed similar concerns. “I wasn‘t worried about being kicked out, but I was a little worried that I might have to go to the … school and show them proof,” said Arielle Berman, a first-year Ph.D. student studying mechanical engineering who also received the email but was complaint.

“I knew I did the right thing,” said Berman.

Stanford told students they weren’t compliant with weekly testing policy — but they were
A Friday-evening email obtained by The Daily was sent to some students telling them they hadn’t met Stanford’s weekly testing requirement and that their on-campus housing privileges were contingent on meeting this requirement. Student name and email address redacted. (Screenshot: SAM CATANIA / The Stanford Daily)

Both Krapivin and Berman provided The Daily with copies of their recent COVID-19 test results to prove that they had been compliant with Stanford’s policies. Two other students — who did not consent to being named in this article but also incorrectly received the non-compliance email — provided The Daily with proof of their testing history.

Stanford sent emails apologizing for the “error” to both Krapivin and Berman. “Yesterday, you received the following reminder to participate in the required student COVID-19 screening in error,” the email read, before suggesting the error resulted from a “mistake” with Stanford’s email “distribution list.”

Stanford told students they weren’t compliant with weekly testing policy — but they were
An email obtained by The Daily apologized to students who received an incorrect warning that they hadn’t met the University’s testing requirement. Student name and email address redacted. (Screenshot: SAM CATANIA / The Stanford Daily)

But Krapivin wasn’t entirely convinced that only an incorrect email list was to blame.

“How they got the wrong list or what went wrong was not stated,” he wrote in an email to The Daily. “If they were generating a list of everyone who was not compliant with the campus compact testing policies, how were the names of compliant people included?”

He added that he felt a “general lack of transparency” was to blame. “We can see the university is hanging eviction over the heads of people who violate the Campus Compact, but if their records are faulty how is this fair?” he wrote.

When asked if Stanford had accurate records regarding who was and was not participating in health screenings, a University spokesperson did not respond to The Daily’s request for comment. The University also did not respond to a question asking if all compliant students who were sent the initial email received an apology or clarification.

Berman said that she felt overall, the University’s testing procedures were organized. “I’m impressed,” she said, saying that in her experience, the testing sites were well-staffed and that she never had to wait in a line.

The Daily asked Stanford for additional information regarding the state of COVID-19 testing on campus, but the University declined to comment on most questions, saying they had “no further updates on testing.”

The Daily additionally asked if the University knew how many students were tested twice or more per week, how many individual students were tested each week, and if Stanford knew what percentage of students were not compliant with weekly testing requirements. A spokesperson declined to comment on these questions.

Contact Sam Catania at samcat ‘at’

Sam Catania ’24 is the Volume 262 Editor in Chief of The Daily. Previously, he was Chief Technology Officer, the producer of the weekly video roundup, a news beat reporter covering COVID-19 on Stanford's campus and the assessment team leader of The Daily's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) team. Sam hails from Philadelphia and is studying Symbolic Systems. You can follow him on Twitter @sbcatania. Contact him at scatania 'at'

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