|Dear Orange Friends:
In July I spent a lot of time on the road and in airports, and a lot of time talking with Syracuse folks from all over. Two things have impressed me from this experience: First, it is going to be a fairly long time before we really come out of COVID and all the things it has changed for us as a community. And second, by and large, people at Syracuse were amazing in how they coped and kept going throughout the past 18 months.
When I say it is going to be a while before we come out of COVID, I don’t mean just the public health aspects. To be sure, we still are very much dealing with the public health challenges of COVID for our community here, as the delta variant spreads in many parts of the country and the world. We will have to be very attentive to public health on campus as we start the fall semester, including testing and accommodation of those who cannot be vaccinated—while at the same time delivering all the in-person activities that our new and returning students are so desperate to have again. Whether it be classes or intramurals or performances or social gatherings, it is time for us to confidently engage again across the board, even as we learn new healthy practices, especially for those who are at risk.
But beyond that, in my travels I have witnessed a lot of folks who are still cautiously emerging from COVID fatigue. People are more on edge. There is often rage or frustration or exhaustion or sorrow just beneath the surface, and at times it comes out at the wrong person or an unlikely place. And yet, I have also seen a lot of people being exceptionally kind and grateful, including to strangers, in the most unlikely circumstances. I have heard about, witnessed and experienced this time and again from Orange people.
In a few weeks, our campus will once again be a busy and bustling place. Things will be closer to normal than they have been in a long time. Still, I ask that we all remember that those we interact with may have good reason to be fragile or on edge. I ask that we try our best to manifest Orange values of community and kindness. In the last 18 months, we saw our community undergo great stress and rise to the occasion with humanity and decency. We got through things better than most schools and better than most of us expected. Let’s remember and channel that success to this new time, when we are coming out of COVID, but not at the finish line just yet.
Chancellor Kent Syverud