April 8 message from President Kolison
Dear Big Blue Community:
Happy Thursday. I hope your week has been good and you have been enjoying this beautiful weather.
As of this morning, the number of positive COVID-19 cases on campus remains at 19, down from 54 on April 1, 2021. While this is not where we want to be, I am encouraged that our positive cases are not increasing since April 1.Students, thank you for remaining vigilant as we enter the last month of the Spring 2021 semester! Please keep your eyes on the finish line. We are almost there.
You may have seen the announcement from SUNY Chancellor Malatras this week regarding a program to vaccinate SUNY residential students prior to the end of the spring semester. SUNY has secured its first reserved shipment of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine for this purpose and will begin to inoculate SUNY residential students prior to their departure for the summer break. Because the J&J vaccine requires just one dose, students can become fully vaccinated with a single dose and without having to wait weeks for a second dose before returning home.
SUNY is distributing the vaccines first to campuses that are running their own vaccination clinics. After that, they will distribute vaccines to campuses that are working in partnership with other agencies to administer vaccines. We fall in that second category, as the clinics on campus are run by the Chautauqua County Department of Health (CCDOH). As soon as we learn when shipments will arrive on campus, we will work with the CCDOH to plan clinics for students and communicate that information.
Also, remember that everyone 16+ is now eligible for vaccinations at any public clinic that the CCDOH oversees on the Fredonia campus. I encourage all students to look for opportunities to receive the vaccination at vaccine clinics offered by the CCDOH.
Continued Testing for Vaccinated Individuals
It is logical to think that once one has taken the recommended dosage of a particular COVID-19 vaccine, the requirement for testing should go away. That is not the case at this point. We still require testing for all students and employees even after they are fully vaccinated, at least for the rest of this semester. I anticipate that a science-informed policy on this will be forthcoming. In the meantime, we need to maintain our threshold of testing based on our campus population so that we do not have to go to remote instruction. The self-administered test is simple, fast, and convenient to allow everyone to take part without difficulty. Please continue with the weekly testing until the requirement is removed.
Recreational Marijuana in New York
The recently enacted Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) makes New York the 16th state to legalize cannabis use. We have received a number of questions and concerns about how these changes will affect campus. Like you, we await guidance from SUNY System Administration staff who are actively reviewing the MRTA to determine how these changes will impact Fredonia and all SUNY campuses. For now, here is what we know:
While this state law authorizing adult-use of cannabis by those age 21 and older became effective immediately, SUNY remains bound by its federal requirements under the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (DFSCA) and the Drug-Free Workplace Act.
Pursuant to federal requirements and existing SUNY policy, the use, possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis remain prohibited on SUNY campuses and subject to code of conduct and disciplinary actions. This prohibition covers all SUNY property located in public spaces or in dorms or offices, including university-owned and leased buildings, housing, and parking lots. The prohibition also applies to [people attending] all SUNY events or conducting university business, except for approved academic research.
For the immediate implementation period, I do not anticipate operational changes on SUNY campuses as a result of this new legislation. Therefore, it will not be a smart move on anyone’s part to test our current policy regarding marijuana.
Commencement Stage Walks Underway
Class of 2021, I want to congratulate you on your tremendous achievement!
The stage walks are part of the hybrid Commencement ceremony being planned for the Class of 2021. The stage walks are being streamed live for family members and friends to watch. They are also being recorded. The recordings will be incorporated into a Commencement video that will include most of the usual components of a traditional Commencement (including speeches from various speakers and the awarding of the Lanford Prize). The video will be released on May 15, 2021.
I appreciate the senior class’s understanding of the circumstances that have led us to this approach to Commencement. I understand the disappointment they and their families and friends are experiencing as a result of this approach. Unfortunately, the risk precipitated by the COVID-19 situation remains very high to hold an in-person event with visitors to the campus.
Thank you for taking the time to read this message. It is beginning to look like we are going to succeed at having a complete academic year with the campus remaining open for us to carry out our mission. I am grateful to each of you - faculty, students, staff, and supporters - for all you have done and continue to do to secure our success. Thank you. Have an enjoyable weekend.
Very truly yours,
Stephen H. Kolison, Jr., Ph.D.
President and Professor