The following message was sent on behalf of President Erik J. Bitterbaum:
For weeks, we have been describing to students a fall 2020 semester that will be like no other. Activities will be modified or moved online. Facilities will have limited access and capacity and many classes will be taught remotely or in a hybrid format.
So many of you were surprised this week when you received bills for the upcoming semester that reflected few reductions in the university’s student fees.
We have made some modest adjustments, and will consider more. A comprehensive list of charges and the rationale behind each of them will be posted on our website early next week.
In the meantime, please try to understand this in a larger context: Although access to a student service or opportunity may decrease due to steps needed to address the pandemic, our cost for providing it does not. Although athletics competition has been cancelled for the fall, for example, we still need coaches and trainers to work with student athletes and prepare teams for future competitions. We still need to maintain our athletic facilities. That's why, ultimately, we decided to reduce the fee by 33% for the fall semester, rather than eliminate it.
We know the economic crisis has caused great pain for many of our students and their families. As a proud, public institution, we are doing all that we realistically can to keep a SUNY Cortland education affordable, accessible and safe.
I need to make you aware that SUNY Cortland is not the only local entity taking steps to reduce density in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19. The Cortland City Council this week moved to limit all social gatherings in the city to no more than 25: half the 50 people currently allowed under New York state guidelines. This will not affect on-campus classes, but is aimed at social gatherings off campus.
If approved by the state health department, the new limit will be enforced by city police and code inspectors. They will initially focus on breaking up excessively large gatherings and issuing tickets, but ultimately could charge violators with a Class B misdemeanor.
As a reminder, the Student Code of Conduct applies to student behavior both on and off campus. Failure to follow university guidelines aimed at preventing transmission of the novel coronavirus, regardless of where it happens, will be considered a violation of the code that could bring disciplinary action. Please refer to SUNY Cortland’s Red Dragon Safe website for details.
Among the requirements intended to help SUNY Cortland have a safe fall semester is our student pre-screening process, which students began using today. Located in myRedDragon, all students are required to complete the online screen, follow all resulting instructions and sign an agreement to abide by all of SUNY Cortland’s COVID-19 safety guidelines.
The pre-arrival screen should be done 14 days before a student is scheduled to return to campus, which allows time for appropriate quarantine or isolation, if needed. No student will be allowed on campus until this screen is completed. Continued non-compliance could result in a hold being placed on a student’s account.
Also this week, the Office of the Provost shared important information about class scheduling and the process for applying to take all classes online. Please keep in mind that, given the mix of both in-person, hybrid, and online course delivery, we cannot guarantee any student a fully online or fully in-person course schedule. Every effort, however, will be made to accommodate students with serious health concerns.
Thank you all in advance for your cooperation and understanding during this true anomaly of a semester. By working together, we can begin a safe and successful fall.
All the Best,
Erik J. Bitterbaum