University expels hundreds of students during lockdown

A Russian university has been criticised for expelling and evicting students from campus dormitories during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown. Moscow’s Russian State Social University expelled and evicted at least 200 of its 1,568 students in mid-April, according to a report in the student newspaper Doxa.

The university claimed the students were expelled for failing their exams and therefore were asked to leave their university-owned accommodation. Doxa, however, claims the true reason was to clear the dormitories for renovations to be carried out during the pandemic lockdown. Moscow’s lockdown had been due to be lifted on 30 April but was extended to 11 May by President Vladimir Putin two days before the due date.

A report published by Meduza, a respected Russian-language independent online news service based in Riga, Latvia, stated that some of the expelled students faced problems in setting dates to re-sit their exams, which is apparently a common issue in Russian universities. Others were not told that dates of exams had changed and one student “failed an exam due to one incorrect answer”. Some students associated their expulsion with political activity.

Students at the university say that before the expulsions they had initially been asked to all move into one dormitory for the duration of the lockdown, with those who resisted threatened with expulsion. Threats have also been issued that warn against speaking to the media, they say.

The students are planning to raise the issue with city health and education authorities, noting that evictions are illegal under current quarantine regulations.

The university press office told the student newspaper that there had been 413 expulsions for poor results over the past two months, but only 17 were living in dormitories.