Every college and university in New York State, including West Point, has been closed, by executive order of Governor Andrew Cuomo, due to the coronavirus pandemic since March 18th. Students have returned to their homes all across the country. On May 1, Cuomo decreed that schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year. No on-site graduations will take place.
Officials at West Point were not sure when the class of 2020 graduation would be held or even if it was a good idea to hold it. As they were considering what to do, President Trump announced that he would deliver the West Point commencement address in person this year- without consulting with school officials. The announcement stunned school officials and raised concerns about safety, the New York Times reported, given it requires recalling 1,000 cadets to the campus — located roughly an hour from New York City- the epicenter of the country’s pandemic.
Graduations are not happening in New York State because they are not safe. They are not safe at West Point. Bringing cadets from all over the country via planes, trains cars, and busses, stopping at gas stations, rest stops, etc. puts them at risk for contracting the virus, infecting each other, and then carrying it back to the rest of the country. Proceeding with this foolhardy ceremony-really a campaign rally for Trump-makes their first official act after graduation PUTTING OUR COUNTRY AT GREATER RISK.
The callous decision to impose this gathering on West Point will put dozens of black and brown workers desperate for income in jeopardy. They will have to ready the grounds, reopen the mess halls, launder and clean rooms, clean toilets, and showers, and dispose and garbage and waste for 1,000 cadets, some of whom will have been exposed to the virus, and in the process be exposed themselves. Uber and cab drivers, florists, and caterers will be exposed. Extra police, Secret Service, and sanitation workers will be forced into service and put it risk.
None of this is necessary. It is the vanity project of a president who is totally preoccupied with his own image and cares nothing about the welfare of the people in this country.
The cadets and their families are being used, held hostage, and weaponized, as is the entire Hudson Valley.
THE EVENT MUST BE CANCELLED.
Hudson, NY 12534
Opinions expressed in Letters to the Editor are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Mid-Hudson News.