The following message was sent to leaders of student organizations by Kevin Pristash ’85; MA ’91, director of the Office of Campus Activities and Corey Union. It was also shared with the broader SUNY Cortland community to help prepare the thousands of participants in student clubs and organizations for the dramatically different way all campus activities will need to be conducted this fall.
Dear student leaders:
I know many of you have expressed interest in gaining a better understanding of what the fall semester will look like as it relates to your organization. Although the protocols established below represent our current thinking, please know that these procedures may change as a result of guidance from SUNY and the state. We will continue to benchmark these guidelines with our SUNY counterparts and our guidelines are consistent with what we are seeing across the state.
It is extremely important to us that you as student leaders recognize that the college experience will look and feel very different from what it was like before the COVID-19 pandemic. We acknowledge that this may be disappointing, but we must consider student and faculty/staff safety first. We are committed to promoting a new and invigorating college experience for everyone, and your role as a student leader will play a significant part of this process. Retaining opportunities for students to connect and engage in co-curricular experiences is critical to our goal of promoting a holistic student experience.
As you may have seen in the Cortland Restart plan, there are strict guidelines related to in-person campus events and club activities. I hope to clarify and expand on those within this communication. I know it is lengthy, so please read it carefully.
We anticipate that nearly all clubs will need to conduct their recurring club meetings virtually. Given space availability and capacity restrictions for social distancing, there most likely will not be sufficient venues to accommodate regular, in-person meetings. Furthermore, hosting meetings virtually will permit those students completing their studies online the opportunity to connect with your group. The Campus Activities and Corey Union office may be able to assist you in establishing virtual accounts that provide the full functionality of what you’ll need. These accounts will be managed centrally by our office, which can also assist in scheduling your meetings. For SGA Clubs to request space, please continue to utilize your advisor. Fraternities and sororities are to continue to submit reservation requests through Associate Director Sandra Wohlleber.
In-Person Event Review and Approval Process
This process will be used campus-wide for all programs hosted by university departments, academic programs and student groups. For student groups, the initial review will be conducted by the Office of Campus Activities and Corey Union. Requests should be submitted at least 14 days in advance.
Hosting a Campus Event
Although we highly encourage you to think about how to host programs remotely, we understand not all events work in this platform. As outlined in the Event Review and Approval Process above, groups may make a request through our office to host a campus event. The submission process will open soon. The review process will include the following considerations in addition to the five criteria outlined in the above process:
Venue Availability and Capacities
Because of established social distancing guidelines, room capacities have been adjusted and capacities are well below the typical numbers. Furthermore, because most classrooms on campus will not be large enough to meet the needs of face-to-face course enrollments, many of these classes will be moved into larger campus facilities not typically used for academic purposes. This includes spaces in the Corey Union. Finally, there will be attendance capacities for outdoor venues as well, and these will be guided by the current guidelines established by the state. As of the writing of this document, indoor and outdoor events will be limited to a maximum of 50 persons. Following is a list of modified room capacities of many campus venues with regards to compliance with social distancing:
Student groups will not be permitted to host events off-campus.
The Student Government Association may not be hosting an in-person Club Fair this semester. Alternatively, we are working hard to procure a technology platform that will allow us to host a virtual fair. When we know more about when and how this platform will work, we will let you know and provide instructions on how your group can sign up. Our hope is that we will be able to create virtual break-out rooms where each club can meet and interact with students interested in joining your organization.
Club tabling will be restricted to four groups at a time and only in approved outdoor areas that have yet to be determined. Each group will be limited to a maximum of one member present per table during the tabling period, wearing face coverings and social distancing. Two tables per group will be permitted at a time and timeslots will be a 2-hour window. The Campus Activities and Corey Union office will take tabling reservations on a first-come, first-serve basis and groups will be limited to one date per week.
Indoor tabling activities will not be permitted as social distancing may not be maintained while ensuring safe building egress.
CORTLAND CONNECT Platform
The CONNECT software provides your group with a variety of solutions to conduct business remotely. For example, your group can send out messages to those in your roster, hold discussion boards and conduct elections. We are actively promoting this platform to new students and you may receive inquiries from new students asking to join. Please be extra vigilant in monitoring these requests in the roster section of your club page. Look for training opportunities with the CONNECT software early in the semester. Please also make sure you complete the club re-registration process, as well. Look for details soon about this process.
Student Club Offices and Storage
Clubs that have designated office and storage space will be permitted to access these rooms. Except for offices already assessed, no more than one person will be permitted in an office at any one time. Equipment may not be removed or used for unapproved activities.
Corey Union Hours of Operation
Please note that the Corey Union Hours of Operation for the fall semester will be reduced and are listed below. All requests for space must begin and end within the established hours. The hours will be as follows from Aug. 23 — Nov. 20:
A Note to Fraternity and Sorority Chapters
All fraternity and sorority recruitment activities must be conducted virtually with the exception of the tabling process outlined above. All new member education and initiation programs must be conducted virtually under the guidance of the appropriate regional and/or national office. Chapters which are small enough MAY be allowed to hold an in-person initiation provided that they abide to all applicable guidelines for such. Look for more detailed information soon.
A Note to Student Government Association Groups
All proposed events hosted by Student Government Association clubs must also be cleared by the Campus Activities and Corey Union office for review and approval. The Student Government Association may have additional protocols in place related to club-funded activities. Look for more details soon.
A Note to Sport Clubs
All sport clubs are subject to the same rules and regulations that govern the activities of all other student groups. Additional program-specific rules may also be enacted. Although sport clubs are strongly encouraged to create plans that will allow them to conduct as much activity as possible in a virtual format, there also is recognition of the need and desire to conduct in-person practices. Requests for in-person engagements will still be accepted by the Sport Club administration, which will review and approve or deny requests based on a number of factors. These factors include, but are not limited to: state, local and university guidelines regarding recreational and competitive athletic participation in place at the time of the request; access to a facility that will allow for safe participation; the ability of the university to ensure participant compliance with the safety measures approved in each club’s individualized Sport Club Risk Assessment Plan. Facilities commonly used by sport clubs are currently being assessed for availability and for safe occupancy numbers. The process for submitting requests will be shared with club leaders at a later time.
Sport club leaders and participants are advised that the upcoming semester will very likely include a significant limitation on the number and type of engagements allowed, the activities that are permitted during those engagements, and the facilities available to the club for use, as well as a number of other unavoidable inconveniences. Keeping health and safety guidelines as a top priority, all efforts will be made to fairly assist our clubs in maintaining some level of student engagement that will allow for productive and meaningful participation.
We truly and fully understand and acknowledge that the provisions outlined above are not the campus life experience we were all hoping for. We also hope that you recognize your role as a student leader is a necessity to implement and maintain these protocols for the upcoming semester. It is our hope that we will return to a more “normal” college experience in the near future. Conducting activities in a modified or virtual way will require all of us to think differently and creatively. In challenging times like these, we have the opportunity to tap into new mechanisms and ways of doing things that can be revolutionary and stand the test of time. Please continue to join us in creating the vibrant college experience we all need and want, especially for those new students that are joining our community.
Kevin Pristash ’85; MA ’91
Director, Office of Campus Activities and Corey Union
PO Box 2000
Cortland, NY 13045