SUNY Oswego suspends athletics and Greek Life for rest of semester following COVID-19 spike

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OSWEGO, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Following a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley and SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras have decided to suspend athletics and Greek Life for the rest of the semester. On top of that, in-person dining and residence hall visitation will also be suspended indefinitely. 

With over 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases among SUNY Oswego’s campus community, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras announced new protocols on Sunday to hopefully prevent any further spread of the virus.

All athletics and Greek Life will be suspended for the rest of the fall semester, in-person dining and residence hall visitation will also be suspended indefinitely. 

According to a release from the SUNY school system, the new protocols are a result of “recurring reports of reckless behavior from a small fraction of students largely living off campus whose actions jeopardize in-person learning for the entire college community.”

“There were obviously a handful, a minority of students off campus partying and doing other things that are clear violations of the rule, which are creating a problem,” Chancellor Malatras said during Sunday’s press conference. “So that is where you have to address the problem because most students are doing the right thing. And, it’s a shame that they’re in this position and feeling anxiety when we’re able to finally open up our campuses again.”

The dining halls will still be open to students at SUNY Oswego, but students will only be able to come in, grab their food and then they will have to find somewhere else to eat other than the dining hall. 

The college is also enhancing enforcement and instituting harsher penalties for those who violate SUNY Oswego’s COVID-19 protocols. 

If a student violates the gathering size restriction on or off campus, they could face an automatic suspension, loss of athletic eligibility or loss of campus Greek Life status. 

If a student is put in quarantine or isolation and they break their quarantine/isolation, they will be suspended immediately and may face more penalties from the Oswego County Health Department. 

SUNY school leaders said all of these efforts come in close partnership with the city of Oswego. Oswego Mayor William Barlow is in favor of these stricter penalties for students, as he tries to protect the Oswego community as a whole. 

Mayor Barlow said, “The latest measures announced by Chancellor Malatras will certainly help stop the spread and better protect SUNY Oswego and the Oswego community from COVID-19. I’m particularly pleased with the ramping up of penalties for those who ignore safety precautions. The City of Oswego continues to work in close partnership with Chancellor Malatras, President Stanley, and SUNY Oswego, and I once again applaud the swift and smart action by our campus leaders.”

If a student takes any classes in person, whether they live on or off campus, they will be subject to continued COVID-19 testing, as the school tries to accurately monitor the spread of the virus. 

Some students living on campus fear another school shutdown.

“They set a whole bunch of good guidelines for everybody on campus but it’s kind of difficult when people don’t follow them and other people have to deal with the consequences,” Abby Wagner, a sophomore at SUNY Oswego said.

Stephen Rettagliata, also a sophomore, added, “I’d definitely be upset. I don’t want to go home. I like being here, learning on campus, living on campus. So I definitely wouldn’t be happy about it.”

President Stanley said they want to make their hybrid plan work safely, but they will make changes as needed.

“This is our shot. We’re going after the people who are causing the problem. If this doesn’t work, then we’ll have to regroup but we have to give this the chance it deserves,” President Stanley said.

For more information on why SUNY Oswego was not forced to transition to remote learning despite having over 100 COVID-19 cases, click here.

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