College students pledge to behave during pandemic

Students sign "social contracts"

CANTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - Masked up to buy books. No crowded quads on campus. No travel back home for many. It can be a downer.

“It definitely sucks,” Clarkson freshman Brian Kiefer said. “I’m just trying to stay positive about it. At least I can still be at college.”

“I was really excited for like hockey games and everything,” said Ryan McCarthy, who’s another Clarkson freshman. “We still have a couple of months until then, so hopefully we can have some fun in the winter.”

Why is it like this? The pandemic, of course. And students are signing many pages of paper. They're pacts they give names like "Clarkson Commitment" and "Bear Pledge."

They're full of rules, but students say they realize why.

"It's our responsibility to realize these are not normal times," St. Lawrence University sophomore Alexander Reyes

With the pacts students sign, they can get busted for things once considered normal, such as playing Frisbee with too many others. Or just sitting too close without masks.

“It’s just for our protection,” Clarkson freshman Abby Faul said. “And everything makes sense. It’s not surprising. Some of the RAs and, like, res life people, they have been writing people up.”

You can get kicked off campus if you keep doing it over and over, but college officials say that's not the point.

“I think this generation is actually the best acclimated to participate in our new social experiment,” SUNY Canton student affairs vice president Courtney Bish said. “I really think that they’ll set the standard for the rest of us.”

The pacts forbid visitors from other dorm floors. Some campuses are closed off to outsiders.

These college students we talked to have watched as several major college campuses in the U.S. have opened -- and then sent everyone home. They say that's serving as a powerful example.

Move-in is complete at Clarkson. At St. Lawrence it is well underway. SUNY Canton and Potsdam will try it out next week.

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