Last March, when Cornell shut its doors, students and faculty alike were scared and confused as to what the next few months would bring. Our future at Cornell was uncertain. Students fled from their dorms and houses, final goodbyes were rushed and every student body and faculty member gained a uniquely traumatic experience that will stay with them. No one knew quite how serious the coronavirus pandemic would get.
Nearly six months later, the U.S. exceeds 6 million COVID-19 cases. As recent events show, life as normal leads to sickness — and, perhaps, even death. Colleges that tried to reopen without the proper precautions in place have failed miserably, endangering thousands of students, staff, faculty and community members in the process.
While Cornell’s positive COVID-19 entry test count is lower than expected and well below the New York State college shutdown point mandated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), the hardest part is yet to come. Recent on-campus parties and social gatherings contributed to multiple positive coronavirus tests on campus in the past week. If this type of irresponsible behavior continues, Cornell too will fail.
The last week has proven that there is no room for error. Classes have yet to begin, but the community has already seen one confirmed coronavirus cluster on campus. Now is not the time to test the waters. Those attending Collegetown gatherings without masks are putting everyone, on and off this campus, at risk. While disciplinary action may be taken against those who break the behavioral compact, Cornell is still not safe if new mistakes continue to emerge. The only way that campus may remain open this semester is if every member of the community abides by the same guidelines. Act as if the lives of you, your friends and your community depend on it, because they do.
Fellow students, all of us are about to experience a novel chapter in our university’s history. Nothing will be as you remember it, and that is a sacrifice everyone must make peace with if we are to succeed. The endeavor we are embarking upon has been deemed impossible. The world is watching, the spotlight is on and the expectations are low. There is a chance to prove those who doubt Cornell wrong; behave for your own sake, for the sake of your peers, and for the sake of the community that ensures that you have a place to call home.
If we follow the rules and fail, at least we know we did everything we could to ensure the health and safety of our community. The burden is on us to give it the old college try. Mask up, keep six feet apart and make the most of the time you have left on The Hill.
The above editorial reflects the opinions of The Cornell Daily Sun. Editorials are penned collaboratively between the Editor-in-Chief, Associate Editor and Opinion Editor, in consultation with additional Sun editors and staffers. The Sun’s editorials are independent of its news coverage, other columnists and advertisers.