In Response to New York State Law, Colgate Drops Mask Requirement on Cruisers

Samantha Wotring, Assistant News Editor

L. Hazel Jack, vice president for university communications and events, sent out an email to the Colgate student body on Sept. 12 informing the community that the mask mandate on Colgate transportation, namely the cruiser service which makes stops throughout Hamilton and Colgate’s campus, will be lifted on Sept. 23.

While most mask mandates in place on campus last year were lifted toward the end of the spring semester, with discretion being given to individual professors in regards to their own classes, the mask mandate remained on transportation services. 

Students expressed relief about the changing mandates, as the continued mask mandate on the cruisers was confusing to some students, including sophomore L.J. Coady.

“I felt like it was kind of pointless, because there wasn’t a mask mandate anywhere else […] why were the cruisers different?” Coady said.

Jack’s email stated that the New York State mask mandates for public transportation dictated Colgate’s decision to continue requiring masks on the cruiser service. On Wednesday, Sept. 6, Governor Hochul lifted the mask mandate for New York State transportation, with Jack’s announcement coming shortly after.

First Transit, the company who operates Colgate’s transportation, declined to comment, saying that the decision to keep or remove the mask mandate was entirely up to the University. 

“The University reviewed its position, and based on input from the EOC, Executive Group and our healthcare professionals, we have decided to lift the mask mandate on transportation, effective Sept. 23,” Jack stated in the email. 

As the country at large has relaxed its COVID-19 restrictions, the Colgate campus begins to look much more like its pre-pandemic self. There is no longer a mask mandate for indoor areas on campus and if a student tests positive and lives beyond 300 miles of Colgate, they are now asked to isolate in their dorm rooms instead of returning home or to a designated isolation location. 

Upon hearing about the mandate being lifted, Coady felt ambivalent about the changes. 

“Honestly, most of the cruiser drivers weren’t actually enforcing it, so it feels like nothing’s changing […] now I don’t get stranded in town if I forget [a mask],” Coady said. “The cruisers weren’t exactly a high transmission space.”

Sophomore Aryan Kanumuri felt similarly about the removal of the mask mandate. 

“I feel indifferent about them removing it but it’s a relief to not have to remember to bring masks on the cruiser anymore. I feel like we’re moving on from the pandemic essentially,” Kanumuri said. “I’m not sure if it’s been better because I’m not sure if people have been reporting their cases but it feels a lot better compared to last year.”

Even though COVID-19 is still very much present in the lives of students, faculty and staff, the lifting of the cruiser mask mandate feels like a sign of hope for what is to come.