How masked COVID-19 protesters from the University of Miami got kicked out by their college

As the University of Miami campus re-filled for another uncertain academic year last month, a group of students, faculty and campus workers issued a grim warning.

On September 4, protesters lay on the ground as dead, some of them holding gravestones, while a Birkenstock-clad person in a dark grim reaper patrolled the scene.

Protesters were targeting what they called unsafe working conditions for staff and faculty amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Students have the option to learn remotely.) But they soon experienced a second scare: Although all the participants were wearing masks, the university had managed to identify them and had them scolded by the Dean of the Students.

The students were concerned that the school would use facial recognition technology. But the school told the Daily Beast it didn’t need it. Instead, using its high powered camera system and internal police force, the university was able to identify masked protesters with their faces and college emails.

In an email to participants in the September 4 demonstration, first obtained by the school’s student publication Miami hurricane, the administrators invited the students to a Zoom meeting to discuss their action. The school’s dean of students told attendees that although they are not subject to disciplinary action, they have broken school rules prohibiting holding a protest on university space without permission.

Graduate student Mars Fernandez said the email, which arrived a few weeks after the protest, was a shock.

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