New York's state university system will hire for a new position within the administration that will report back on student concerns such as unsafe living conditions in quarantine dorms, parties, and other stories surfacing around college campuses right now, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said Thursday.
In an exclusive interview with Capital Tonight, Malatras said this student advocate will report directly to him
“They’re going to hear from the students, help students,” Malatras explained. “Hear the good things and the bad things so we can develop policies to help students, so I’m really excited about that position.”
Multiple reports have now come out of colleges like University at Buffalo and SUNY Oneonta from students saying they received moldy food during the school’s lockdown, or were only delivered two bottles of filtered water in their quarantine dorms.
Many of these colleges say they just were not prepared to handle this many students in quarantine or that details are still being worked out. These plans, however, were all approved by the SUNY administration, before Malatras came on board last month.
“A plan is only as good as the implementation of a plan,” Malatras said. “And many of the plans passed muster. They had isolation facilities, they had the testing protocols, they had the food service delivery, they had all the things you have to be mindful of. But if you can’t implement the plan, of if things go sideways it doesn’t really matter what’s on the paper. What we’re going to be aggressive on is getting ahead of those issues right away.”
The SUNY system will also be placing more of an emphasis on testing. Students are being tested about every two weeks and SUNY now has the capacity to conduct around 120,000 tests every week.
Malatras said they also plan to test students before they return for the spring semester.
“Every campus will be testing,” Malatras said. “We can ship the materials up to SUNY Upstate and they can turn it around in 24-48 hours, so we have this amazing capacity and we’re trying to build more of the capacity. We just announced yesterday that we secured five more testing machines for SUNY Upstate so we can do even more testing capacity.”
Malatras also went into detail on how safety policies are being enforced across SUNY campuses, including suspension, and which campuses his administration is keeping his eyes on in terms of COVID-19 spikes, such as SUNY Oswego.
Watch the full interview above.