SUNY Chancellor Malatras Launches “Mask Up or Pack Up” Campaign to Promote Compliance with COVID-19 Safety Protocols

September 14, 2020

Issues Call for Creative Video Submissions from Students Urging Classmates to Act Responsibly and Vigilantly to Contain Virus and Keep Campuses Open


Albany – State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras today launched SUNY's "Mask Up or Pack Up" campaign to promote universal compliance with evidence-based COVID-19 safety guidelines across SUNY's 64 colleges and universities. Chancellor Malatras is issuing a call for creative video submissions from students urging their classmates to act responsibly and vigilantly to contain the virus and keep campuses safe and open.

"'Mask Up or Pack Up' gives our students a platform to send powerful, persuasive messages to their classmates that encourage them to rise to the challenge and comply with proven COVID-19 safety measures," said Chancellor Malatras. "Over a few short weeks, I've met with hundreds of students across more than a dozen campuses, all of whom are acting responsibly so they can stay on campus and learn. This campaign will harness their talent, creativity, and frustration with the small fraction of students who jeopardize entire college communities. We need universal compliance and uncompromising vigilance from everyone to keep campuses open—and we are proud of students who are determined to speak directly to their peers to help amplify that message."

Student video submissions should highlight the importance of mask-wearing, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and parties, and complying with testing and tracing guidance delivered by colleges and local health departments. Students are urged to harness their passion, creative energy, and determination to stay on campus to convey their message in the most powerful way possible. Submissions should be no longer than one minute. Once they are received, SUNY will incorporate them into the statewide "Mask Up or Pack Up" campaign. For more information on how to submit a video, visit the #MaskUpSUNY website.

A number of colleges and universities across the SUNY system have already taken swift, strong actions in response to small groups of students who are flaunting safety guidelines. Those actions include individual student suspensions, semester-long suspensions of athletics and Greek Life, indefinite suspensions of in-person dining and residence hall visitation, the scaling back of campus activities, and increased penalties for students who violate the guidelines. SUNY's "Mask Up or Pack Up" campaign will seek to send strong messages to students who engage in this type of behavior.

SUNY recently launched a three-pronged approach for combatting COVID-19 on campuses. The strategy includes: strict enforcement of safety protocols to minimize cases; routine, required surveillance testing to identify the presence of the virus; and transparent, case-count statistics through our new case tracker that produce data-driven decisions that contain the spread of the virus when it does appear.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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Holly Liapis
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