October 18, 2021

4 SUNY students charged following big party

Four others also suspended; those at large gathering wore no masks

Logo provided by SUNY Cortland

Four SUNY Cortland students were charged Saturday — and four students suspended from college following a party where police found more than 75 people partying without masks.

The charges follow an investigation begun Friday by city and SUNY Cortland police after complaints of large, off-campus parties, Cortland police Deputy Chief Paul Sandy said Monday in a release.

About 12:15 a.m. Saturday, police noticed groups of college-age people walking toward 70 Tompkins St., which has been the site of complaints of large, loud gatherings over the past weeks, Sandy said. The noise exceeded the legal limit at 50 feet from the property. When police approached, an occupant of the building shouted to turn off the music and for others to go upstairs.

Police established a perimeter and, while waiting for backup to arrive, asked a young woman leaving the building to let them in. Sandy said police found evidence of drinking and identified the four hosts, as well as a dozen guests — none of them wearing masks. They estimated another 75 people were either locked in bedrooms or had jumped out windows. The guests included current and former SUNY students, as well as visitors from other colleges.

The four hosts, who did not comply with police requests to get the others out of the rooms, were each charged with a count of prohibited noise, a violation:

  • Drew G. Resciniti, 21, of New City.
  • Joseph E. Kenna, 21, of Stormville.
  • Christopher M. Cruger, 22, of Garnerville.
  • Vincent Giannilivigni, 21, of Commack.

All four were ordered to appear March 5 in Cortland City Court. Sandy said they may face more charges.

SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum said four students were also suspended and will face disciplinary action in connection with the party, but he did not identify the students. More students, as they are identified, will also face college discipline.

“To say that I am disappointed and frustrated would be an understatement,” Bitterbaum said in a release. “The party was held just hours after I reached out to give you an update on the rising number of COVID-19 cases at SUNY Cortland. The selfishness and lack of judgement illustrated by Saturday’s party is appalling.”

The partiers were very likely exposed to the virus and may be spreading it, Bitterbaum added. “It is imperative that these students participate in campus surveillance testing this week and I urge all of them to voluntarily quarantine until they have a result,” he said.

City and campus police will continue the investigation, Sandy and Bitterbaum said.

“Any resident of a home hosting such a party will be suspended,” Bitterbaum said. “Students and parents should also note that suspension means the loss of tuition payment, room, board and fees for the semester.”

“When I praised the majority of SUNY Cortland students for consistently wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding groups larger than 10 people, I meant it,” he added. “And I still believe it is true: Most students are doing what is needed to get us through the pandemic safely and prevent the campus from moving into a study-in-place model.”

“We are in the middle of a devastating pandemic that has killed nearly half a million Americans in just one year,” Bitterbaum said. “Life simply cannot go on as though this danger does not exist.”