On Wednesday, the popular crowdfunding platform GoFundMe paused donations, without explanation, to a fundraiser for a Union College student who was expelled for refusing to get a COVID booster shot.
The Chicago Thinker broke the story last week about Diamond “Ellie” Puentes, a Union College sophomore who was expelled for refusing to get a COVID booster shot, even though her doctor wrote a letter to the college warning that her getting a booster shot is “ill-advised” because she is experiencing severe health problems “presumably caused by the vaccine itself.”
Hours after the article was published, Puentes’ friend started a fundraiser for Puentes on GoFundMe. According to an archive of the fundraiser’s description, the fundraiser’s $30,000 goal was to raise money for Puentes to “find the proper legal assistance to figure out the best course of action” and to help her pay the tuition she owes because “she won’t be receiving money back from the spring term she has now not been able to attend.”
This description, along with the option to donate, has since been removed by GoFundMe. Now, the fundraiser page for Puentes announces that “[t]his fundraiser is paused.”
Puentes told the Thinker on Wednesday night that she and her fundraiser’s organizer have not received any communication from GoFundMe as to why her fundraiser, which had raised $4,328, has been paused. It is unclear how Puentes’ fundraiser may violate GoFundMe’s “applicable laws and regulations” or its “Terms of Service.”
Puentes’ friend has now organized an alternate fundraiser for Puentes on GiveSendGo, a Christian crowdfunding website.
This is not the first time GoFundMe, which calls itself the “#1 online fundraising expert,” has paused a fundraiser concerning vaccine hesitancy. Earlier this year, the platform paused a multi-million dollar fundraiser for the “Freedom Convoy 2022” protest in Canada. In a blog post, GoFundMe said it paused this fundraiser because it wanted “to ensure the funds are going to the intended recipients and that the fundraiser remains within [its] Terms of Service.”