The upcoming school year is in jeopardy for Central New York college students after a huge crowd gathered on Syracuse University's campus Wednesday night.

Videos of the gathering began appearing on social media that evening, showing a large number of what were soon identified as largely first-year students gathered on the university's Quad. The students were not wearing masks nor social distancing.

J. Michael Haynie, Syracuse University's Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation, released a statement Thursday, condemning the students' actions, calling them selfish, reckless and unsettling.

"Last night, a large group of first-year students selfishly jeopardized the very thing that so many of you claim to want from Syracuse University—that is, a chance at a residential college experience," Haynie wrote. "I say this because the students who gathered on the Quad last night may have done damage enough to shut down campus, including residence halls and in-person learning, before the academic semester even begins."

Earlier this week, many freshmen arriving in New York from COVID-19 hotspots across the country finished their mandatory two-week quarantines, according to CNYCentral. But Wednesday night's mass gathering on the Quad violated both New York State public health law and provisions laid out in the Syracuse University Stay Safe Pledge for fall 2020. As a result, Haynie said The Department of Public Safety is reviewing security footage from the Quad and any identified students will be immediately referred to the student conduct process, as outlined in the Stay Safe Pledge.

"All this said, I want you to understand right now and very clearly that we have one shot to make this happen," Haynie wrote. "The world is watching, and they expect you to fail. Prove them wrong. Be better. Be adults. Think of someone other than yourself. And also, do not test the resolve of this university to take swift action to prioritize the health and well-being of our campus and Central New York community."

Read the full statement from Haynie on the university's website.

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