Clarkson enters second stage of university’s gathering guide

Clarkson University is a private research university with its main campus in Potsdam. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

POTSDAM — Amid dozens of college student and organization suspensions across the state this weekend, Clarkson University has confirmed the removal of 14 students enrolled at its Potsdam campus, after violations of COVID-19 protocols were reported.

As part of Clarkson’s Future Ready Plan for reopening this semester, students were required to sign a social contract as an addition to the existing student code of conduct. The contract, called Clarkson Commitment, outlines 10 compliance expectations for all students and four additional expectations for those using dining hall facilities and residing in on-campus housing.

A student signature indicates an agreement to maintain social distancing, follow new classroom seating protocols and wear a face mask indoors, at all times, except within an assigned residence hall room. Other expectations include compliance with university and state gathering restrictions, and all rules are based on public health guidelines and designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The full contract is viewable on Clarkson’s Future Ready website.

Students and Greek organizations at other New York schools, including SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Geneseo, have been reported to be suspended for violating COVID-19 guidelines. Over the last week, Clarkson officials identified a total of 14 individuals in violation of the social contract, leading to actions described in the Future Ready Plan as “protective measures.” The Clarkson students have not been suspended, but have been directed to return home to complete the semester remotely, Kelly O. Chezum said.

Ms. Chezum, Clarkson vice president for external relations, said the removals stemmed from students “not adhering to the Clarkson Commitment,” though she did not comment further on specific violations.

Appendix F2 of the Future Ready Plan details accountability procedures should alleged violations of the Clarkson Commitment be reported.

Following a review of any alleged incidents by the Dean of Students Office or other campus officials, one of four “protective measures” may be imposed: loss of specific campus privileges, a housing reassignment, loss of privilege to live in university housing or loss of permission to be on campus.

The protective measures do not appear on a student’s permanent record and are not disciplinary sanctions, according to the university, though additional disciplinary consequences, such as suspension, may be imposed for “intentional or significant alleged violations.”

Fewer than 3,000 students are currently residing in campus housing, Ms. Chezum said, with about 250 students — now 264 — studying remotely.

Clarkson students were required to submit a negative result prior to arriving on campus, and upon arrival, students are being tested again. As of press time Tuesday night, a total of 3,130 students and employees were tested for the novel coronavirus since student move-in began in phases Aug. 1.

Facilitated by the Student Health Center and St. Lawrence Health System and processed by MIT-Harvard Broad Institute labs, two of those tests returned positive results, with one individual recovered and one case currently active. The university plans to continue testing 300 random students each week this semester.

Clarkson held its first day of classes Aug. 19, and remains in the first stage of its four-stage gathering guide until any necessary contact tracing resulting from initial campus testing is completed. During Stage 1, all non-essential meetings, gatherings and in-person activities outside of classes are prohibited, though Clarkson’s fitness centers are now operating by appointment and at limited capacity for students and employees, based on state guidance updated Aug. 17.

Stage 2 permits some gatherings of no more than 10 people; Stage 3 expands to accommodate groups of up to 25 people; and Stage 4 caps gatherings at 50 people until further guidance is issued by state officials.

Clarkson University’s evolving plans and case dashboard are accessible at clarkson.edu/future-ready.

Should residents or other students wish to express concern over incidents related to student conduct or violations of community expectations, reporting avenues have been outlined by each member of the Associated Colleges of the St. Lawrence Valley in Potsdam and Canton.

In Potsdam, alleged violations can be referred to either community@clarkson.edu or community@potsdam.edu. Messages can be sent to both accounts if a reporter is unsure which university a student or group of students attends.

In Canton, concerned residents may contact St. Lawrence University’s 24/7 Safety and Security line, 315-229-5555, or submit an online report on SLU’s Always Forward website. Concerns about SUNY Canton students should be directed to Lenore VanderZee, executive director for university relations, at vanderzeel@canton.edu.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(7) comments

Username1002

I know one of these 14 so I can provide some more details on the situation. The 14 that "violated" the Clarkson commitment live off-campus. They were reported to be having a party outside there residence by a faculty member at Clarkson. They were just having a barbecue and a few drinks with their roommates. This was the "violation" of the Clarkson Commitment. New York is in Phase 4 of reopening which allows gathering up to 50 people. Clarkson's intention here was not to be fair but rather just make an example out of a group regardless of what actually was occurring. I doubt these people will actually be kicked off of campus.

Eagle24

1002 -First bullet on the Clarkson Commitment..."Always wearing my face covering (e.g. face mask or face shield) any time I am indoors--excluding my assigned residence hall room/suite/apartment--including but not limited to hallways, bathrooms, academic spaces, study/lounge spaces, dining facilities, and fitness facilities, and any time I am outdoors while within six feet of another person." So 1002, is your contact suggesting they complied with this?? That doesn't pass the straight face test...

BTW.. a BBQ and a few drinks with roommates is a party...

rockloper

Unless Clarkson's policy is more lenient than the State, they can use whatever means necessary to protect the student body. It matters little what Phase 4 says if Clarkson's policy is stricter.

rockloper

That's good that Clarkson is showing the students they are serious about their guidelines.

Eagle24

Good move...I'm guessing this will be a cat and mouse game throughout the semester.... Good luck parents!

rockloper

I gotta feeling Eagle that once the students know there are consequences for inappropriate actions they won't tempt fate.

Eagle24

Let's hope so RL... it's the measure of maturity with independence...risk vs reward... a test greater than their exams.. fingers crossed.. wish them the best..

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