On Wednesday, April 20, Puerto Rico’s President of the State Joey Byron announced that the island would no longer accept Cornell students and alumni as visitors during spring break. With approval from U.S. President Joe Biden and in cooperation with the local hospitality industry, Cornellians will no longer find relaxation and repose on this island.
“We’ve dealt with everything from loitering, littering, public indecency, loudness, complete disrespect of local customs and on top of everything, almost every resident has complained about Cornell students taking up the beach for bonfires,” said Sandra Lee, secretary to Byron.
The new rule applies to all currently enrolled Cornell students. Before booking flights and Airbnbs, the government will be cross-checking first and last names with student data in Cornell’s Student Center, to which the University has provided the local government access. Students who have family in any region will need to fill out a special Visa application that would require them to list family members and provide a DNA test as proof of familial relations.
University President Martha Pollack was the first to make a statement on Cornell’s cooperation with Puerto Rico. This decision came just weeks before Pollack was set to announce the opening of Martharitaville, a student center exclusively for Cornell students vacationing in Ponce.
“We know this is a tough decision, especially since Martharitaville was set to open its doors to another leg of the Cornell community this May,” Pollack said in an interview with CU Nooz. “But I understand that we must respect the island’s decisions and ask the Cornell community to be strong at this time.”
Cornell students have been notorious for overfilling the island with sorority and fraternity trips and regular group getaways. According to local business owners, this influx of Cornellians has forced its regulars, who include undergraduates in University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and Harvard Business School, to head to the Dominican Republic instead, leaving a significant deficit in Puerto Rico’s tourism revenue.
Puerto Rico is not the only vacation spot that has shut its doors to enrolled Cornell students. The states of Florida, California and Massachusetts have also agreed to follow Puerto Rico in imposing restrictions by the end of June 2022. However, the states will begin with sophomores and juniors.
“We get many Cornell students every Spring Break so it will be hard to say goodbye to our favorite tourists and residents,” said Gov. Weasley D’Alligator of Florida. “But my family … we’re a Yale family, so I can’t say I’m too hurt.”
The new rule goes into effect May 10, 2022, the formal end of classes for Cornell students before the study and exam period.
Some spring breakers like Johann Schrœder ’25 are furious with this decision.
Johannson was looking forward to his first trip to Puerto Rico with his fraternity, Kappa Sigma. He is disheartened that he will not be able to spend time with his friends over spring break.
“My Big, Kevin, is a huge fan of the beach. I just really don’t know where we’re going to find another one this late in the game,” he said.
However, students like Mienna Sae ’22 understand the restrictions and are not as disappointed by them. Sae is currently dating her boyfriend, who resides in San Juan and rents out property on Airbnb to spring breakers.
“Yeah, he’ll make less money, but he’ll have more time to come see me,” Sae said.
President Byron hopes that the restriction will benefit the island and other vacation hotspots by freeing up space for other university students. However, he sends a message to the Cornell community that if they are on their best behavior, they may return.
“We really are protecting our tourism, our beaches, our local culture, and our sanity,” Byron said at a press conference this Wednesday. “But as of now, the only exception is that science guy.”