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McMahon: Don't punish SU students for gathering, vaccinate them

Citrus TV
Syracuse University students gather Sunday evening on Harrison St.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said Monday that college students should be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, rather than punished for taking part in gatherings on or off campus. 

McMahon was responding to reports that more than 100 Syracuse University students, many without masks, gathered Sunday after Syracuse's men's and women's basketball teams won their games in the NCAA tournament. 

Crowding Castle Court on Harrison St. after a big Syracuse win is a longstanding tradition for SU students. That tradition continued on Sunday, but the celebration was short-lived, when the Syracuse Police Department quickly arrived at what they referred to as a “large parking lot party.”

When asked on Monday about how the county will be managing this behavior, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon had one answer:

“Let me vaccinate the kids, that probably be the best way to handle this situation, don't you think,” he said.

McMahon continued to say he’s not surprised by the students’ actions.

“We're a year into this, to think college kids aren't going to bend or break the rules or that they're going to be militant at this point,” he said. “That's that's not pragmatic thinking right now.”

In a statement, the University’s Associate Vice President for Communications, Sarah Scalese, condemned the students’ actions.

“We appreciate our students are excited about our basketball teams’ wins tonight in their respective NCAA tournaments,” she said. “However, now is not the time to let our guard down nor is it acceptable for our students to willfully disregard public health guidelines and the Stay Safe Pledge. We implore our students to act and celebrate responsibly.”

Syracuse University has been dealing with a microcluster on their Main Campus with 92 active cases and 275 students in quarantine as of Monday.

Even if the eligibility rules were changed, college students would be unlikely to be vaccinated before Syracuse's next tournament games this weekend. So, McMahon said students need to be smarter. 

Should they do better? Yes, they should do better," he said. "And we need them to do better."