ITHACA, N.Y. –– The weekend before finals at Ithaca College is typically a time when students gather at off-campus houses to celebrate the end of the academic year, but this year the largest one of these annual gatherings—known as “Kendall Day” because hundreds gather on Kendall Avenue on South Hill to party—is being strongly discouraged by school administration, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, who say they will have staff in the area on the day the event is slated to take place to redirect students attempting to participate.

“While the end of the spring semester and academic year is traditionally a cause for celebration, Ithaca College is urging students to maintain pandemic precautions and avoid hosting or participating in large gatherings in the South Hill neighborhoods surrounding campus. The college will be providing an on-campus opportunity for students to celebrate safely instead,” a message from Ithaca College Director of Public Relations Dave Maley said.

The college in its message lays out an on-campus “festive alternative” to take place on the last day of classes on Friday, May 7—the day before the annual Kendall Day—providing all students with free food and activities “designed to safely celebrate the end of the academic year.”

“We are excited to be able to offer our students an opportunity to socialize responsibly while keeping New York state gathering and COVID guidance in mind,” said Christina Moylan, the college’s Director of Public Health Emergency Preparedness. “This event will allow our students to celebrate before departing for the summer, which they deserve, in lower-risk spaces on campus where the organized activities can remain de-densified.”

Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Life Rosanna Ferro added her appreciation for students’ general adherence (save for some minor violations here and there) to health and safety guidelines during the Spring semester, during which cases remained relatively low.

“Despite unprecedented challenges, your steadfast commitment and accountability to our shared community health measures has been nothing short of remarkable,” she wrote. “Thanks to your unwavering diligence we have been able to showcase what we can accomplish when we are #ICinThisTogether and have truly brought our beloved South Hill campus back to life this spring. Now I encourage us all to remain committed to finishing what we have started!”

Ferro in her note went on to warn that taking part in “unsanctioned, unstructured events such as Kendall Day,” could subject students to sanctions from the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards.

“I remind you that the Ithaca College Community Agreement prohibits members of our IC community from participating in mass gatherings. Additionally, I ask our students to please be mindful of the potential negative impacts – both personally and for our greater IC community – that large-scale gatherings could have.”

She also made it a point to say that “law enforcement agencies will continue to monitor and respond to potential violations of New York State public health regulations, local noise ordinances, and other issues in the South Hill neighborhoods,” seemingly implying that a police presence will be in the area Saturday to further discourage gathering.

In an effort to promote self-governance, the college held a meeting for students living on Kendall Ave and the connecting Pennsylvania Avenue, “to reinforce the message and provide information and resources, including how they can limit uninvited outside visitors at their residence and who to contact if unwanted visitors refuse to leave their residence.”

And, again, as a final defense, college staff and faculty volunteers will have a “presence in the neighborhood” on Saturday, May 8, redirecting students going to Kendall and Pennsylvania Avenues.

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at alamb@ithacavoice.com