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Potsdam Prepared: Fall 2021 Updates

New SUNY Uniform Sanctions for COVID-19 Violations

September 30, 2020

Dear Students and Parents:

Our progress so far
We want to thank you for the diligence and personal responsibility that you, our students, have overwhelmingly displayed this semester. We are now in our fifth week of classes here at SUNY Potsdam, and as our comprehensive surveillance testing has shown so far, we have had very limited positive cases of COVID-19 detected among residential and local students. We have also seen good compliance on the whole with the expectations outlined in our BEAR (Be Ethical And Responsible) COVID-19 Pledge. Students are for the most part complying with these expectations and are holding each other to the same standard, by reporting any possible violations when they see them.

Thus far, SUNY Potsdam has been a role model for other campuses and a leader within the SUNY System. We are proud of all that you have done to make this possible. This achievement doesn’t come easily—it requires each of us to do our part every single day to stop the spread. We must keep up the hard work, as President Esterberg has reminded campus, because as we have seen at other campuses in the SUNY System, a small number of cases can quickly balloon if people don’t take this pandemic seriously.

New uniform SUNY sanctions
Because of the issues that have been seen across the SUNY System, Chancellor Jim Malatras has just instituted an emergency directive to implement a uniform COVID-19 sanctioning policy for all SUNY campuses. These sanctions go into effect tomorrow, October 1. You can read through the important policy and sanctions document that was just issued here.

The Chancellor recognizes that violations of COVID-19 expectations can endanger every SUNY campus and the surrounding communities. The sanctions outlined are therefore quite strict, mandating that a finding of responsibility for many of these policies would mean at a minimum that a student would no longer be able to attend classes face to face and might result in suspension or expulsion. These sanctions require that the campus may need to respond differently in the future to perceived violations than it has in the past.  

The policy covers:

  • COVID-positive intentional violations
  • Failures to self-isolate
  • Failures to quarantine
  • Prohibited on-campus gatherings (sanctions for hosts and attendees)
  • Prohibited off-campus gatherings (sanctions for hosts and attendees)
  • Face mask and social distancing requirement violations
  • Contact tracing noncompliance
  • Failure to comply with campus health protocols

Additionally, there are provisions regarding repercussions for student athletes and for student organizations which are found to have violated these conduct expectations. We encourage you to read through these new sanctions and continue to do your part to follow our BEAR COVID-19 Pledge.

Don’t let up your guard
We would especially remind students that the BEAR Pledge asks students to wear their face coverings at all times when not in their individual living spaces, residential students are not allowed to have unauthorized guests, and students who wish to travel outside of the North Country region of New York State must contact Dean of Students Eric Duchscherer before doing so.

Thank you for all you are doing to protect yourselves and each other.


Patrick Meldrim
Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards

SUNY Potsdam

Eric Duchscherer
Interim Dean of Students

SUNY Potsdam