To the editor:
I write to you as a neighbor and a partner in safeguarding our community.
Over the past four months, those of us at Manhattan College have engaged in an enormous effort to reopen our campus safely for the fall semester, when some students will take classes in-person, and some will take classes remotely.
We recently started welcoming resident students back to campus over the course of two weeks, with staggered arrival times. Since one of our residence halls, Overlook Manor, is off-campus — and some of our students live in off-campus housing in the neighborhood — I wanted to inform the community about how we are working with our students to maintain the health and safety of our campus community and our neighborhood during this pandemic.
We have created a pledge for all students and employees to review and sign. The pledge specifically asks them to take responsibility for the health and safety of our community, and outlines the steps necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
We have revised the college’s code of conduct to reflect our current reality. We will have zero tolerance for large gatherings, on or off campus. Students who are facilitating events that could spread the virus, and students engaging in behaviors that intentionally put others at risk, will be subject to appropriate discipline.
Any off-campus apartment, house or other dwelling where there have been repeated complaints about disruptive behavior may be designated as a “nuisance residence.” Repeated complaints may be documented in a number of ways, such as neighbor complaints, reports to 311, reports to 911, police reports, police response to an off-campus residence, or reports of the same to Manhattan College Public Safety.
Once a dwelling has been designated a “nuisance residence,” Manhattan College students will be prohibited from living at that residence for a designated length of time. The college will also notify the landlord — if contact information is available — of policy violations as they become known to the college.
We understand our obligation to our surrounding neighborhood is as important as our obligation to our students, faculty and staff in returning to campus this semester.
We love this neighborhood. In fact, I lived here as a child. We appreciate our community and are aware that people in this area have been vital in lowering the infection rate to less than 1 percent since we were last on campus.
Manhattan College students consistently give back to Riverdale through community service, and add significantly to the local economy. Nonetheless, we are committed to holding ourselves and our students accountable for the values on which the institution is based.
We look forward to rejoining you in the neighborhood, pledge to do our part to keep that infection rate where it is, and assist in the well being of everyone in our own Manhattan College community and the greater Riverdale and Bronx communities.
The author is associate vice president and dean of students for Manhattan College.