“The blame for this does not lie with just one party,” the Observer editorial staff wrote Friday.
The students are casting critical eyes at administrators rather than their peers, at whom school officials wag their fingers, chastising their weakness for answering the siren call of a party.
Get-togethers on and off campus at Pennsylvania State University, College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts and Purdue University have prompted investigations into attendees. At least 36 Purdue University students have been suspended. Communities surrounding the schools are also growing concerned that the gatherings could become “super-spreader” events for virus transmission.
The latest group of students to be castigated gathered on Syracuse University’s campus Wednesday night. At least 23 students have been given interim suspensions after a small group turned into a considerably larger one within 15 minutes, prompting the campus Department of Safety to clear out the area, Department of Public Safety Chief Bobby Maldonado said in a statement.
“This gathering was foolish as it put these individuals, their fellow students and our ability to remain on campus in jeopardy,” he said, explaining that students who host or attend on-campus or off-campus gatherings could face suspension or even expulsion.
Student journalists for the school’s Daily Orange paper captured video of the crowd and noted that other colleges and universities have moved to online learning to prevent similar risks.
It was the second rebuke students received this week from school leaders.
Syracuse’s Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation J. Michael Haynie sent a blistering letter to students Thursday, calling their behavior “selfish and reckless.”
“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,” he said.
Haynie said students could have caused enough damage to shut down the campus before the academic school year starts.
But the editorial pages of campus newspapers say school officials should look into a mirror to see how their actions have caused virus scares and uncertainty.
The Observer in Indiana said blame toward students isn’t completely misplaced, but it does allow for school leaders to deflect how unprepared they were to safely reopen.
In its Friday editorial, students say responses to the virus and inadequate information are glaring indications that the seriousness of returning to campus during a pandemic wasn’t completely examined.
The editorial board urged everyone in the tri-campus community, students, faculty and administrators to do their part to mitigate spread, listing all the obituaries they don’t want to write. “Don’t make us write yours,” it ended.
The Diamondback, the student-led newspaper for the University of Maryland, was even more direct in its criticism as the school is set to reopen Aug. 31. Students there said the move is motivated by the school’s reliance on room-and-board money as public funding has become scarcer since the start of the pandemic.
“But chasing that money means literally risking lives and contributing to the spread of the virus in the state and the county — an area that has already been hit hard. Jeopardizing the health of the community by reopening is unconscionable, especially considering that, with about 86 percent of undergraduate course sections already fully online, there is no need to invite most students back at all,” Diamondback editorial staff wrote.
Student staff writers highlighted the disastrous situations across other campuses as examples of the perils sure to follow once on-campus instruction resumes.
“So in a few weeks from now, when students and employees are getting sick and College Park is overwhelmed by the virus, remember who’s really to blame,” the editorial board said.