Thursday, August 20, 2020

Good for the Syracuse University Student Rebels

By Adam Dick - August 21, 2020 at 12:07AM

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It does not take nearly as much to be a rebel at college as it used to. With a multiplicity of rules restricting college students’ activities at campuses across America in the name of countering coronavirus, a significant act of rebellion can be to shake hands with a friend, leave your nose and mouth uncovered, or congregate in a group. In other words, rebellion can be to take ordinary actions of the verboten “old normal.”

Administrators at Syracuse University in New York appear to be hopping mad that a group of largely freshmen students on Wednesday evening, during the students’ time on campus before fall semester classes begin, did something you would expect them to do — join together in a group and socialize.

What has been normal and even encouraged, is now forbidden. This living life stuff cannot stand, college administrators demand.

“Last night, a large group of first-year students selfishly jeopardized the very thing that so many of you claim to want from Syracuse University—that is, a chance at a residential college experience.” That is the first sentence of a Thursday letter to Syracuse students from J. Michael Haynie, a Syracuse University vice chancellor. The forbidden action these students took, writes Haynie, is gathering in the Quad. The Quad is an outdoor place on campus where, in school years past, students regularly met and events were commonly held.

Correction, Haynie, the gathering students were the ones trying to have “a residential college experience.” It is the university rules that seek to destroy that experience.

Chris Carlson explains in a syracuse.com article how the very ordinary action by students at the Syracuse University campus can run afoul of rules imposed in the name of countering coronavirus. Carlson writes:
Videos and photos posted to social media on Wednesday night show a large number of Syracuse students gathering on the school quad, seemingly in violation of school policies made to limit the spread of coronavirus.
The videos and pictures were first reported by the school newspaper, The Daily Orange, which estimated that more than 100 students were gathered on the quad. The students do not appear to be wearing masks or physical distancing, which violates school policies put in place during the coronavirus pandemic. The school’s Stay Safe Pledge also asks students to limit gatherings to 25 people. It’s unclear how long the students gathered before dispersing.

Because of this gathering of students, writes Haynie in his letter, students can be punished and even the campus can be shut down.

Haynie writes in the final paragraph of his letter to students, “Be better. Be adults.” The fact of the matter is the students were acting fine and like adults. They sought to live their lives instead of being bound by antisocial rules imposed supposedly to protect them from a virus that for most college freshmen poses about zero risk of death and little risk of major illness.

In the old days — say, a year ago, many college students would take bigger risks routinely and do alright. Taking some risks and taking responsibility for any repercussions is part of moving into adulthood.

IIt would be nice if Haynie and other administrators at colleges across America would back off and let students have a chance at a college experience focused more on exploring freedom and less on being subjected to relentless domination. As long as administrators don’t do that, best wishes to the rebels.

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