Syracuse University is back in session like all colleges and universities, time effort and expense went into creating an environment where classes could “safely” resume in person. Onondaga County has 3,578 confirmed cases with 204 deaths, families, friends and neighbors worked diligently to “bend the curve”. Aggressive testing ensued which enabled our region to open before others.
All educational institutions were required to have a plan to reopen for the Fall semester. All of the planning in the world was tossed to the wind, as Syracuse University students reportedly held a massive gathering defying Onondaga County’s Local orders that prohibit these parties.
Disturbing video by Chris Hippensteel on social media is gaining viewers. According to the Syracuse University student publication the Daily Orange “At least 100 students, some without masks, are seen on video gathering in the university’s Quad, not social distancing. The videos come less than a week before the official start of classes on Monday.” Area residents were horrified by the sight of more than 100 students partying.
In Syracuse, our COVID-19 infection rate is 131.6 per 10,000 that’s the highest in the area. If students party and there’s a community spread it is the residents of Onondaga County and the City of Syracuse who must to bear the burden of increased COVID-19 rates on campus, which then can result in a community-wide issue as students aren’t restricted to campus. Our communities are intertwined.
Late this morning Syracuse University issued a statement:
Last night, a large group of first-year students selfishly jeopardized the very thing that so many of you claim to want from Syracuse University—that is, a chance at a residential college experience. I say this because the students who gathered on the Quad last night may have done damage enough to shut down campus, including residence halls and in-person learning, before the academic semester even begins.
Make no mistake, there was not a single student who gathered on the Quad last night who did not know and understand that it was wrong to do so. Instead, those students knowingly ignored New York State public health law and the provisions of the Syracuse University Stay Safe Pledge. Even more selfish and unsettling is how the actions of those students willfully undercut the efforts of those who have worked tirelessly over the summer to set the conditions for the continuation of residential learning. Even more selfish and unsettling is how the actions of those students may prevent our seniors from claiming their final year of college on our residential campus. Even more selfish and unsettling is how the actions of those students could force a situation where some of their classmates may have to vacate the most safe and stable and supportive living situation they have ever known.
A full investigation of last night’s incident is underway. The Department of Public Safety is reviewing security camera video from the Quad, and individuals that can be identified will be immediately referred to the student conduct process.
All this said, I want you to understand right now and very clearly that we have one shot to make this happen. The world is watching, and they expect you to fail. Prove them wrong. Be better. Be adults. Think of someone other than yourself. And also, do not test the resolve of this university to take swift action to prioritize the health and well-being of our campus and Central New York community.
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation