Update: October 29, 2020, 10:00 a.m.
The semester is more than halfway done, and we appreciate the dedication and hard work you have done to keep yourselves and your fellow Bengals safe. The next couple of weeks may present situations where you may be challenged to balance this safety with a desire to socialize and/or engage in freedom of expression.
This upcoming weekend is Halloween, and while it may be tempting to attend large gatherings, I encourage you to engage with your peers in safe ways. That means small gatherings (10 or fewer folks), wearing masks (when you’re around anyone you don’t live with), and remaining physically distant (at least 6 feet from others). We know that large events are tied to the potential spread of the virus and I want all of us, and our families, to remain healthy. We also know that exposure time is cumulative, which means 15 minutes or more spent around someone who is positive can put you at risk--even if it’s not all at once.
Election day is next Tuesday, November 3, and I know many are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the election. You may be tempted to gather to watch election results, participate in gatherings around expressing your viewpoint, or wanting to be in the company of others for support. I encourage you to look for ways to do these things in a virtual format (viewing parties, online forums, etc.) and to remember your safety should you choose to do anything in person. SUNY and health guidelines are applicable regardless of the purpose of a gathering. It’s important that we’re clear on what actions and behaviors we need to embrace.
SUNY Chancellor James Malatras has shared guidance on what students are expected to do, and what he expects the campus administration to do should violations occur. However, if we all do our part, we can remain together safely and continue with our semester as planned.
Looking ahead to the day and weeks before us, it’s important to remember that the City of Buffalo, including police and inspectors, will continue to monitor near-and-off campus behavior. They are aware of the guidelines set by Buffalo State, and will notify us of any concerns or large gatherings that involve Buffalo State students. Resident students who violate protocols are also subject to removal from the residence halls, and any student who hosts an off-campus gathering could face a fine of up to $1,500 by the City of Buffalo.
I know being socially distant is not always easy; especially during celebrative days like Halloween. Let’s stay focused on supporting each other, and the fact that we all represent something greater. Although there have been examples of peers on other campuses not succeeding, that is not the Bengal way. There are many ways to connect with your fellow students, either through the Bengal Ambush virtual programming, or by setting up group message or video chats.
Another critical piece to consider around Halloween is being aware that cultures are not costumes. I want to emphasize the importance of our mission to promote social justice, and be a campus that celebrates, not appropriates, other’s cultures. If you have questions about your costume, why cultural appropriation is problematic, why it should not be ignored, and how to be better advocates and allies, please remember there are resources here to assist such as the Assistant Dean of Inclusion and Equity, Michael Heflin.
Be smart and hold your peers accountable to what we have agreed to this semester. There are resources available if you need some help with this. Also, if you have concerns to report, you can do so by contacting the Dean of Students office. Be clear that we will continue to take actions to prioritize the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, campus, neighbors, and adjacent communities. We need your help in celebrating and engaging in self-expression in a safe and inclusive manner.
There are also many support resources, through SUNY and Buffalo State, that can provide support if you need to discuss concerns, stress, or the ways the pandemic may be affecting you. We want you to reach out so that you can be supported and know that you are not alone in being challenged by all that is happening in the world. For instance, check out the resources at Weigel Health Center.
Remember these safety strategies:
Be well, Bengals!
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