SUNY New Paltz staff and administrators have been volunteering their time on evenings and weekends to meet directly with students on and off campus, providing masks, hand sanitizer and friendly reminders about the importance of the Pledge to Protect New Paltz during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Each Friday and Saturday night of the fall semester, small groups of staff members have been walking and driving around campus and the surrounding community and stopping to introduce themselves to groups of students they encounter.
“When we see a gathering, whether it’s a group walking in the Village or at a residence, we offer free masks and hand sanitizers in sort of a reverse trick-or-treat manner,” said Stephanie Blaisdell, vice president for student affairs.
During the first few weeks of the semester, the Patrols have met with dozens of students. Blaisdell said the vast majority were already following necessary public health regulations.
“Most of the students we’ve met are already doing the right thing,” she said. “When people hear ‘party’ they might think of big gatherings and loud music, but that’s not what we’re seeing at all – it’s more just small groups of friends hanging out.
“Our efforts are meant to help them understand that, even though they feel safe because they trust their group of friends, the more people they have close interactions with, the more exposure they are risking for themselves, for their friends and for the community.”
While the primary goal of the Party Patrols is to educate students and provide health supplies, they’ve had the additional benefit of allowing students and staff to enjoy meaningful connections at a time of heightened stress and isolation from others.
“We want students to engage and have a good time; we just want them to do it safely,” Blaisdell said. “If you see us coming, don’t panic. We’re the Party Patrol, and we’re here to help!”