CSU COVID-19 Header President's OfficeAugust 20, 2020

Dear CSU undergraduate, graduate, and professional students,

This is a call to action. You have a responsibility to do what is necessary to mitigate the transmission of the coronavirus at CSU, both on campus and in our community. The vast majority of you are making the right choices; you are responsible, caring, empathetic and willing to take up the challenge and do what is required to stand up against the pandemic. However, some of you are not.

To those of you who are not compliant with state, county and university health protocols: you may be the reason someone loses their life. It is that serious. 

I am sure you that you have heard that irresponsible behavior on the part of a few students caused Notre Dame University to pause its in-person classes and activities until September 2. Meanwhile, as an extreme precautionary measure, both Michigan State University and the University of North Carolina declared that they were returning to remote learning for the fall semester. Although no campus will be free from COVID-19 cases – it is a pandemic – some campuses will have a greater chance to flatten transmission if everyone takes responsibility for compliance and holds each other accountable. I believe that CSU in Fort Collins can be one of those campuses.

You have a choice. You can either strictly comply with all of the health protocols we have put in place to mitigate the transmission of the coronavirus on campus or you can face that very real possibility that your lack of compliance could be responsible for ending on-campus operations. I know that you don’t want us to join North Carolina and Michigan State and shut down campus.  You have voted with your feet and arrived on campus to learn and grow. However, if each and every one of you, whether living on campus or off, does not act to mitigate transmission, we will return to remote operations this semester.

Mitigation is your responsibility. It is your challenge to comply.

I know that some of you hold political views that you believe justify ignoring state, county, and university public health protocols. Colorado State University respects diverse political views and your freedom to hold them. However, CSU is obligated both legally and morally to do everything we can do – based on the best science available – to establish rules to protect the health of the community and to require you to obey them. We cannot accept your political views as an excuse for non-compliance with state, county, and university rules.  This is strictly a public health issue and you will face consequences for non-compliance, including student conduct proceedings and possible expulsion. Don’t risk this.

CSU requires that you abide by the public health requirements explained in this video. They are:

  • Get tested for COVID-19. If you are a resident student, you can get a free test this week. Learn more here. And if you’re not a resident, get tested locally. Learn more here.
  • Always wear a mask in all buildings except in your own apartment or dorm room.
  • Physically distance from other individuals at least six feet at all times.
  • Wear a mask outside if you cannot be more than six feet from others.
  • Limit all social gatherings – on campus or off – to 10 people, everyone must wear masks and the must observe 6 ft physical distancing requirements.
  • Avoid gatherings – on and off campus – where there are more than 10 people and where mask-wearing and physical distancing rules are not followed.
  • Tell the truth when contacted by a Contact Tracer. If you’ve been exposed to COVID, they want to support you!
  • Follow medical protocols if you are told to quarantine (what happens when you have been in contact with a person who is COVID-19 positive) or self-isolate (what happens when you are COVID-19 positive.)

It is imperative that students, faculty, and staff hold one another accountable for violations of all of the public health protocols I just listed, which again can be found in this video. A healthy, successful Fall 2020 semester on campus can only happen if all of us follow these precautions and have the courage to step up and tell others to do the right thing.  You can report a violation of the COVID public health protocols here. And let me be absolutely clear:

  • Any violation of the health protocols is a violation of university policy.
  • Students who violate the health protocols will be reported to Student Conduct.
  • Student Conduct violations can ultimately result in expulsion.

The Coronavirus is our common enemy and we must fight it together. Your health, the health of our faculty, and staff, and the health of the Fort Collins community is and will always be our top priority. We have been diligently working throughout the summer to prepare our campus for your return.  We want you to have a on-campus experience this semester.  We want you in our classrooms, in our residence halls and apartments, on the Oval, and in the many university facilities that can enhance your CSU experience.

But as the President of CSU, I never forget that our extraordinary campus community is made up of more than 30,000 people. And you put the health and well-being of all of those people—30,000 students, faculty, and staff—at risk when you refuse to comply with health requirements and when you fail to hold yourself and your peers accountable.

So this is my call to action for all of you: Step up. Take responsibility. Accept that the reality of your college experience this fall will be indelibly impacted by COVID-19. Join with the CSU community in following public health protocols to mitigate transmission so that we can continue on campus – together.


Joyce McConnell