When Cameron Hammer saw a phone number with a 607 area code calling during finals week, the SUNY Cortland student figured the call was related to a hold on his account or course registration for the Fall 2021 semester.
It turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
Hammer was being notified that he earned the grand prize item in SUNY Cortland’s COVID-19 pool testing incentive program: a semester’s worth of free textbooks from the Campus Store. His name was randomly selected from students who achieved perfect attendance for their COVID-19 testing during the spring semester.
“I just thought it was the right thing to do honestly — the safest thing to do,” said Hammer, a childhood/early childhood education major from Miller Place, N.Y., on Long Island.
Throughout the spring semester, SUNY Cortland administered nearly 50,000 COVID-19 tests among its students, faculty and staff members. The university also hosted regular vaccine clinics in Park Center Alumni Arena.
All students using SUNY Cortland facilities were required to report weekly to the Student Life Center for testing, which involved a short mouth swab initially and then switched to a saliva collection method in March. Hammer noted the ease of the process.
|Cameron Hammer, a childhood/early childhood education major from Miller
Place, N.Y., earned free textbooks for a semester through the university’s
COVID-19 pool testing incentive program for students.
“It was five minutes of your time,” he said. “There was never a long line. They definitely had a great process.”
Hammer transferred to SUNY Cortland from Suffolk County Community College in Fall 2020, meaning that his only experience on campus has been during the pandemic. With the rollout of effective COVID-19 vaccines, he’s hopeful for the future.
“I just felt like testing was the best way to get things back to normal,” he said. “I’m looking forward to having the real college experience.”
The university also offered monthly prizes for campus residents and off-campus students to encourage testing participation, with winners receiving Cortland-themed prize packages. Selected names included Madison Rice and Connor Owenburg in February, Virginia Alvisi and Jacqueline Santaniello in March and Samantha Yannuzzi and Preston Moore in April.
SUNY Cortland’s pool testing incentive program was sponsored by the Campus Store and coordinated by the university’s engagement committee.