Resident voices concerns about covid threat at SUNY Cortland

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“I settled my roots here after spending my entire life drifting around. This is my home,” said James Knight, a Veteran. “I know we’re a college town and they’re business is important — on the other hand, my mother & father; my grandparents and my children — their lives are priceless.”

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Knight expressed dire concerns over student partying and rising COVID-19 cases at SUNY Cortland this week during last night’s city council meeting.

His frustration led him to contact the SUNY chancellor’s office, where he voiced displeasure with the way school officials are managing the crisis.

At one point, Knight even called for the resignation of university president Erik Bitterbaum.

While that’s not likely to happen, his passionate words did not go unheard.

Communications director Fred Pierce spoke on behalf of the university. He empathized with Knight, but countered the notion that Bitterbaum is at fault.

“You’re absolutely right in what you say about those students and their behavior posting a threat to the greater community, said Pierce. “I will say that you are not correct in laying the blame on President Bitterbaum.”

He went on to explain that little more could have been done, legally, to prevent or further deter situations like what happened this weekend.

A gathering of at least 100 students packed a house party on Tompkins Street, resulting in four arrests and expulsions. More will be disciplined as they’re identified.

“They were locking themselves behind doors so police couldn’t get to them,” said Pierce. “There’s nothing further that law enforcement or the president of SUNY Cortland could have done in that type of situation.”

Pierce says more students were disciplined last semester than in several previous years combined at the college.

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