Michael Suguitan / Sun Senior Photographer

On March 13, shortly after President Martha E. Pollack's announcement to cancel all classes until Spring Break, students took to the slope to enjoy a "Slope Day" of their own.

March 16, 2020

Slope Day Officially Axed as Cornell Rolls Out Latest COVID-19 Restrictions

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The Slope Day Programming Board canceled the beloved spring tradition before it had the chance to announce this year’s artist lineup — an abandonment of months of planning to comply with New York state and Centers for Disease Control event guidelines during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Slope Day’s cancellation marks the loss of a venerated custom for Cornellians — from seniors eager for their last year-end celebration to freshmen, whose first taste of the tradition has now disappeared from the academic calendar.

While severe weather abruptly shortened the event in 2018 when students evacuated Libe Slope early amid thunderstorms, this year’s Slope Day cancelation marks the first time the event will not be held in recent decades.

In the latest COVID-19 development, Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life, announced the cancellation alongside a slew of new containment measures in an email Monday night.

Despite in-person classes being canceled for the rest of the semester, Cornellians still held out hope there was a chance their semesters could finish with Slope Day — even as a long list of other campus traditions, including Dragon Day and the Cornell Fashion Collective show, were called off.

But the event’s cancellation two months in advance reflects a growing sentiment that life with COVID-19 is here to stay.

Lombardi’s email also announced changes to daily campus operations. Students can no longer eat their meals in dining halls, as these on-campus eateries are transitioning exclusively to take-out, following statewide policy measures to prohibit dining in at restaurants starting Monday at 8 p.m.

Gyms and athletic facilities, as well as many libraries, will also close, effective Tuesday. Closed signs are now pasted on Olin Library doors, and McGraw Tower has shuttered for the public. Many other campus buildings and facilities will remain closed or limited to only card access.

The announcement also reminded the Cornell community that in-person meetings are discouraged and all meetings with more than 50 attendees are prohibited, in keeping with a nationwide push to encourage “social distancing.”

Across the country, universities are canceling similar large late-semester events. The University of Pennsylvania canceled its commencement ceremony on Monday, following the University of Michigan’s Friday decision to cancel its commencement. Cornell has not yet made an announcement about graduation, but anticipates making a decision by the end of March.