COVID Cluster: Syracuse University students react to the spread of the virus on campus

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8 p.m. UPDATE: Syracuse University announced on Wednesday that most of the new cases can be linked back to an off-campus party.

The university has now announced the following actions:

  • Any SU student who is a leaseholder or occupant of an off-campus property that has a party that is in violation of the New York State social gathering directives, or in violation of the Stay Safe Pledge, will be referred to the Office of Students Rights and Responsibilities for review and appropriate action will be taken.
  • The Department of Public Safety will enforce patrols and practice enforcement instead of education. These students will be referred to the Office of Students Rights and Responsibilities Office.

In a letter, SU said the following:

“Please: Make the right choices. Think of those around you. And remember, it’s on all of us to successfully finish the semester safely, together and on campus.”

Read the full letter sent to students, staff and faculty below:

“By now, you are aware that the University is currently experiencing a concerning increase in COVID-19 cases within the campus community. Almost this entire increase in COVID-positive cases can be traced to one off-campus party. This fact, and our current situation, should serve as a clear and visible reminder of just how vulnerable we all are to a small number of individuals not upholding the Stay Safe Pledge.

The vast majority of our community continues to be vigilant, accountable and proactively engaged related to the public health practices necessary and appropriate to sustain our residential campus experience. That said, our primary concern—above even sustaining our residential campus—is to safeguard the health and safety of our campus and Central New York community. For that reason, the events of the past 48 hours have compelled the University to announce the following actions:

  1. Effective immediately, any Syracuse University student listed as a leaseholder or occupant for an off-campus property where a party is held in violation of New York State social gathering directives, or in violation of relevant provisions of the Syracuse University Stay Safe Pledge, will be immediately referred to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR) for review and appropriate action.
  2. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) is enhancing patrols in university neighborhoods with a shift from education to enforcement. Students who are participating in social gatherings in violation of New York State social gathering directives or the Syracuse University Stay Safe Pledge will be referred to OSRR.

In addition to these new actions, we will continue to reinforce what was announced in a message from Vice Chancellor J. Michael Haynie yesterday, including:

  • All in-person student activities, with the exception of classes, associated coursework and intercollegiate athletics, are paused temporarily. To review a list of permissible activities, please read Vice Chancellor Haynie’s message.
  • The provision of the Stay Safe Pledge that allows for social gatherings of 25 individuals or less is amended such that, with the exception of classroom activity, social gatherings on- and off-campus may not exceed five individuals who do not live together.
  • We are in touch with Greek chapter leadership and have asked them to adopt a “no-visitors” policy (beyond those who reside in those houses), similar to the policy in place for on-campus residence halls.

At this point in the semester, you should know what is and is not permitted under current public health law and guidance, and the University’s expectations for compliance. We are not going to villainize the individuals who have made choices that have jeopardized the health and well-being of our community. We are, however, going to hold those individuals accountable for their actions.

Please: Make the right choices. Think of those around you. And remember, it’s on all of us to successfully finish the semester safely, together and on campus.”


SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A cluster of COVID-19 cases has popped up on Syracuse University’s campus. On Wednesday, university leaders said that the cluster came from one or more social gatherings happening off-campus over the weekend.

Now, they’re tightening up their protocols and testing thousands of students to track the virus. On Tuesday, the university tested 3,000 students at the dome. On Wednesday, they’re expecting to test thousands more.

NewsChannel 9 visited Syracuse University to see how the students are feeling as the virus spread in their home away from home.

“Not necessarily in this capacity or anything but I think if you look at any other school, I mean at one point, something was bound to happen,” said Camran Shealy, a sophomore at SU.

Others are dissapointed.

“I was a little bit surprised that people would do that after we’ve been doing so well. And I’m also disappointed because they ruined activities for everyone on campus,” said Erica Trobia, a sophomore at SU.

The university has canceled all in-person events and activities except for of course classes and intercollegiate sports, but in the meantime, students are required to wear a mask and they’ve got signs posted all over campus to monitor for covid symptoms.

“I’ve talked to my friends that go to other schools out of state and their schools have definitely not done as much testing as Syracuse has,” Trobia said.

There’s also a tighter limit on social gatherings. Students can’t hang out with more than five people at a time, outside of their roommates.

“I mean, I think it’s definitely unfortunate that you have to do that but I think that everyone kind of has the same idea that we don’t want to go home so if that’s what has to be done for it then,” Shealy said.

Not the fall semester they planned for, but many are willing to do what it takes to stay safe.

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