Hot State First Years Move Into SU Dorms
By Erin Lyons SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Just under 400 Syracuse University freshmen and transfer students from states on the New York COVID-19 Travel Advisory moved into dorms on August 2 to begin a mandatory 14-day quarantine on campus. Families had to pay one thousand dollars for their students to quarantine on campus.
Prior to arriving on campus, students were tested for COVID-19, by a local testing center or a mail-in test provided by the university.
Upon arrival, students and their families had to check in at Manley Field House to ensure the university received the results from their first COVID-19 test. Carrie Abbot, the Director of First Year and Transfer Programs, said students needed a negative test result in order to move into their residence hall.
Students were tested a second time in the parking lot of Manley Field House North, where Vice Chancellor Michael J. Haynie walked around and oversaw the operation of checking in students for quarantine.
A university representative said there is currently a 72-hour turnaround time on testing.
Abbot said the goal is for these students to quarantine safely until late August, when just around 1,300 freshmen students will join their class on campus.
It’s an irregular move-in process for an irregular year, both on campus and off. Abbot admitted that this was unlike any move-in process in previous years.
“This is probably my 16th Syracuse Welcome, and I’ve been at the university [for] twenty years,’ Abbot said. “So this is definitely a unique experience, but we’re doing our best to make the students feel welcome in these unique circumstances.”
Once moved in, students in quarantine must practice social distancing while living in “pods” of 15 to 20 students on dorm floors. Syracuse University will deliver three meals a day to the students, who are not allowed to leave their floor or their residence hall.
Despite the changes, freshmen were upbeat and enthusiastic about starting college, even in the midst of a global pandemic. Attending a college far away from home is already a challenge for many students, but incoming freshmen Marco Svolinsky was ready to start the semester
“It was already a kind of big challenge without it,” Marco said. “With it, I guess just like everyone else, I’m kind of just here for the ride. I’m excited for the whole experience.”
Marco was waiting in the car with his father as Syracuse University verified his COVID-19 test results. Marco and his father are from Florida, a state that has seen a surge of coronavirus infections in the last few weeks.
“Again, I’m just happy that Syracuse University is taking the precautions to have this opportunity for students from hot states,” Marco said.
Marco is not the only freshman that is looking forward to the Fall 2020 semester.
“I was just excited to get out of my house and really Syracuse is offering a college experience this year, I’m taking it,” said Dylan Fos, an incoming freshman from STATE
Fos is excited for his first year at Syracuse University, but is not convinced students will be able to stay on campus for the entire semester.
“I think it’s ultimately up to students to make the right choice so we can stay on campus this semester,” said Fos.
Syracuse University students have already faced consequences for violating public health guidance and quarantine orders.
The Zeta Beta Tau fraternity was suspended on July 31 for “reckless and selfish behavior” that violated public health policies. Two graduating members of ZBT entered the house without permission on April 23 and hosted a gathering with 20 to 30 students, according to a statement from Zeta Beta Tau National.
A group of students were put on interim suspension on August 6 for violating quarantine orders, according to Sarah Scalese, a Syracuse University spokesperson.
“Students who violate these requirements will be met with appropriate sanctions,” said Scalese, in a statement to CitrusTV. “While we cannot comment on a specific case due to federal privacy laws, recently, the university has placed a group of students on interim suspension for knowingly violating quarantine orders.”
The number of students suspended is unknown.
During the move-in process, students could only have one person assist and come inside the building. Each student was given a 2 hour time slot for move-in. Rick Fritz, the parent of an incoming Newhouse Bandier student from Maryland, waited outside Flint Hall as his wife assisted with the moving process.
“I’m giving mama bear everything, she’s running the show,” Fritz said, as he handed off his son’s DJ equipment to his wife.
Fritz said that, as a healthcare professional, he’s impressed by how Syracuse University is bringing students back to campus during a pandemic.
“How this university has done everything with communication, with policies, I’ve never seen something so well organized,” said Fritz. “I’m big into organization, and to see something so well organized, especially considering the circumstances, this is awesome.”
Fritz said the one thousand dollar price tag for quarantine was a “sticker shock,” but that this was ultimately the most affordable option for his family.
It’s his son’s lifelong dream to attend Syracuse University, so as a parent, Fritz knows this is the next step for his son. However, as a healthcare professional, he’s unsure about how this semester will play out as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country.
“To be honest with you, it’s a crapshoot,” Fritz said. “You just don’t know and unfortunately that’s the world we live in.”
More Syracuse University students from COVID-19 hotspots will arrive in Syracuse later in August. Returning students from hot spots who plan to live in campus housing this semester will need to complete a two week quarantine elsewhere in order to move in.