NYU’s randomized COVID-19 testing program goes unenforced

The university is requiring randomly selected students to get tested on campus for COVID-19. However, at least three students who did not comply with the mandatory testing faced no follow-up or consequences.

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Ryan Walker

NYU has implemented randomized COVID-19 testing for students. Some students who evaded required tests, though, faced no repercussions. (Staff Photo by Ryan Walker)

By Kashish Bhatia, Staff Writer

Shortly before the beginning of the fall 2021 semester, NYU announced that it would institute randomized COVID-19 testing for fully vaccinated staff, students and community members — reversing an earlier decision to end its required testing program in summer 2021. But several NYU students have failed to comply with the university’s testing program and faced no consequences, despite participation being required. 

“The StudentLink Center sent me an email … requiring that I get tested through Binx or BioReference by the following Friday [one week later], even though I’m fully vaccinated,” a CAS student — who asked to remain anonymous fearing disciplinary action from the university — told WSN. “Between classes and my job, I wasn’t able to get tested within the week they said I needed to be and I never heard anything from them after that.”

The student did not receive a follow-up email, despite three weeks passing after they were initially directed to take a test. When asked whether noncompliance had impacted their campus access, the student said that they had no problems completing the Daily Screener and entering NYU buildings.

Sonika Nandi, a third-year student at the Rory Meyers College of Nursing, was also randomly selected for testing. She received an email from the NYU StudentLink Center on Sept. 3 asking her to complete a COVID-19 test by Sept. 10. She could not comply with the requirement since she was not in New York City and was therefore unable to report to an on-campus testing site. The university did not follow up on the testing request.

“After I received the original email asking that I be randomly tested, I emailed the StudentLink Center back saying I was not able to get tested because the semester [for Rory Meyers] began on Sept. 13, and I was not in New York during the time frame in which they wanted me to get tested,” Nandi said. “I received an automated response requesting that I try my best to get tested through NYU before Sept. 10, but ultimately, I never ended up getting tested.”

Tisch junior Michael Phan was also able to complete the Daily Screener despite not completing a required COVID-19 test. 

“When I got the email to get tested, I wanted to get tested outside of NYU, but the email said they wouldn’t be accepting results from any other testing sites,” Phan said. “I honestly forgot about it until the next week, but I hadn’t heard anything more from the StudentLink Center, so I just let it go.”

NYU spokesperson John Beckman previously told WSN that “1,000 members of the university are required to be tested for COVID-19 as part of the randomized testing program each week.” Beckman did not respond to multiple requests for comment on whether students are permitted to opt out of randomized testing or if the university is tracking students who were selected to be tested.

The university’s COVID-19 tracking webpage says that its testing program involves four types of testing, including “randomized testing of NYU community members.” The webpage also shows 97-99% vaccination rates among members of the NYU community. Vaccination exemptions for religious and medical reasons are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. No such exemption guidelines have been outlined regarding participation in the randomized COVID-19 testing program.

Contact Kashish Bhatia at [email protected]