‘Be better’: In public letter, Syracuse official lambasts ‘selfish’ first-year students

"The world is watching, and they expect you to fail. Prove them wrong."

A Syracuse University administrator, in a public letter Thursday, lambasted first-year students who gathered on the campus quad in hordes the night before, throwing the feasibility of an on-campus semester into jeopardy.

Videos and pictures on social media show over 100 students, including some not wearing masks and not adhering to social distancing measures, the university’s student newspaper, The Daily Orange, reports.

Classes at Syracuse are supposed to begin Monday amid the coronavirus pandemic.

However, in his letter Thursday, J. Michael Haynie, vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation, wrote the students “may have done damage enough to shut down campus, including residence halls and in-person learning, before the academic semester even begins.”

Advertisement

School protocols mandate face coverings be worn and forbid gatherings of more than 25 people.

“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,” Haynie wrote.

The incident comes as some colleges and universities were forced to move classes online recently due to coronavirus case flare-ups, including at the University of Notre Dame and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, according to The New York Times.

In Syracuse, Haynie said the university is conducting a “full investigation” and is working to identify students who appear in security video footage.

Read the full letter below:

Dear Students:

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.

Sincerely,

J. Michael Haynie
Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation


Get Boston.com's e-mail alerts:

Sign up and receive coronavirus news and breaking updates, from our newsroom to your inbox.

Jump To Comments