Keep Our Community Safe and Healthy
Welcome back! I hope that your summer was restful and that you are excited to return to campus after an extended hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Certainly, this will be an academic year like we have never seen before as we continue to navigate the complexities of this pandemic and keep our university and the greater Kent community healthy and safe.
We have all watched what has taken place across our country as college students begin returning to their respective campuses. Specifically, large parties and gatherings happening at on- and off-campus residences have caused institutions like UNC-Chapel Hill, North Carolina State, Notre Dame and others to take serious steps, including suspending in-person instruction in favor of only remote learning, suspending all activities and even sending students home because they experienced significant COVID-19 outbreaks within their communities.
Recently, I have become aware of these same types of large gatherings happening at off-campus properties right here in Kent. It has been noted by students, parents and community members that large numbers of our students are holding and attending parties without wearing face coverings and without observing physical distancing guidelines.
Make no mistake about it, we ALL play a critical role in keeping our community safe and healthy. Students, faculty and staff all must commit to doing their part to ensure we are doing everything we can to avoid this pandemic taking over our university. Each of us must make short-term sacrifices to ensure long-term success. There are many of you who are doing all that you need to do to keep our community safe. For that, I am so grateful.
For those who are choosing not to adhere to public health and university guidance, let me be clear: Your behavior is threatening a successful fall semester for all of us. I am asking each of you to do your part, so that together our university can weather this storm. Wear your face covering. Practice physical distancing. Avoid large gatherings. Show up as the leaders that I know you to be, and do all that you can to help keep our community safe. I pledge to you that I will do the same.
Many of my counterparts across the country have been in the difficult position of having to suspend all social events and activities on their campuses as a result of unsafe behavior. Many others have had to take student disciplinary action against students and student organizations for violating health and safety rules and guidance. These actions have included probation, suspension and expulsion. While this is something that we can and will do in the name of health and safety, we don’t want to have to take these measures. Instead, I want each of our students to lead by example. Be the beacon of leadership and the example of what it means to get this right. In our current environment students have seen, heard, and/or had access to numerous measures to assist in embracing safety on and off campus. As a reminder, student engaging in behavior that violates university rules on or off campus are subject to due process as outlined in the Code of Student Conduct. If a student is found responsible for behavior that puts our community at risk, sanctions may range from probation through suspension or dismissal from Kent State University.
I am asking that you rise to this challenge and do your part in keeping our community safe. Let’s do this together. I am with you 100% of the way!
Remember and rely upon our Flashes Safe Seven guidelines, and remember that Flashes Take Care of Flashes! I wish you all the best for a safe, healthy and successful academic year!
Lamar R. Hylton, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs