Editorial Board

Editorial Board: SU administration isn’t without blame after Quad party

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Classes haven’t started yet, and we’ve already seen a party large enough to potentially shut down campus. Except this wasn’t a fraternity house or an off-campus party. Over 100 freshmen met in the middle of campus, only a few hundred feet from the Department of Public Safety’s headquarters.

It was only a matter of time before dozens of students would gather without masks, violating social distancing protocols in their eagerness to celebrate the new semester. What happened Wednesday night is the first of what will be many major gatherings on and around Syracuse University’s campus this fall.

About 20 minutes passed from when the gathering had “grown considerably” to when DPS dispatched officers to the Quad, according to a timeline from DPS. Syracuse University has over 1,000 cameras on campus — the Maxwell School even has a live Quad cam — but campus police could not prevent a party from forming in the most visible space on campus.

DPS Chief Bobby Maldonado said the department is taking “appropriate steps” to stop a similar gathering from happening again. The Daily Orange has asked what those steps are, and we have not received an answer yet. But it is too late. What little faith the SU community had in the administration’s ability to keep us safe, let alone keep us on campus until November, is gone.

If DPS cannot stop 100 students from holding a party on campus, The Daily Orange Editorial Board has no confidence in SU administration’s ability to maintain a safe campus environment with thousands taking in-person classes. We also have no faith in some of our peers’ willingness to follow social distancing and public health guidelines.

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The country expects college students to fail this experiment of attending in-person classes during a pandemic, as Vice Chancellor Mike Haynie said in his campus-wide email chastising those who gathered on the Quad. We’ve already proved them right. So has the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. So has Penn State. So has Notre Dame.

When more than 100 freshmen gathered in the middle of campus, abandoning public health guidelines and leaving masks in their dorms, they endangered not only SU students, faculty and staff, but also the greater Syracuse community. Their actions were egregiously selfish and lacking in compassion.

In an effort to enjoy the college experience they were promised when deciding to attend one of the nation’s top party schools, the freshmen jeopardized what little of that experience is left for the rest of the student body. COVID-19 has limited nearly every part of the college experience, and students must now cling to what they can still enjoy at SU. Those on the Quad placed a night of spontaneous fun over the academic and social lives of thousands of students, many of whom haven’t even arrived on campus yet.

But these students cannot be the sole recipients of blame.

The response to the incident from SU and DPS leaves many questions unanswered. DPS was slow to respond to the gathering, especially given its close proximity to its offices. How that many students were able to leave their dorms and head to the Quad remains unclear. SU officials must take accountability for these shortcomings and immediately make changes to remedy them.

We’ve known, in the back of our minds, that resuming on-campus classes would be an unlikely, or at least temporary, scenario. We’ve joked — laughing instead of crying — about how long our semester of in-person instruction will last. By October? The first snowfall? The third week?

The full impact of the Quad gathering and of the delayed DPS response won’t be known until SU further updates its COVID-19 dashboard. But the gathering has revealed deep ineptitudes in both SU’s ability to prevent large gatherings and in our classmates’ maturity to care for themselves and others.

Classes begin on Monday. The flaws in our readiness to return to campus, revealed this past Wednesday, will be present then, too.

The Daily Orange Editorial Board serves as the voice of the organization and aims to contribute the perspectives of students to discussions that concern Syracuse University and the greater Syracuse community. The editorial board’s stances are determined by a majority of its members. You can read more about the editorial board here. Are you interested in pitching a topic for the editorial board to discuss? Email [email protected].







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