Four people in Lawrence died of COVID-19 this past week and nineteen are now hospitalized—the highest total since January. Just three weeks into the semester, students and colleagues are absent from classes awaiting test results. Our community is at risk; and many faculty and students feel that KU is not responding adequately.
Over 1,000 colleges and universities have mandated COVID vaccinations. KU is not among them. Many schools have retained the social distancing policies and flexible teaching options they developed last year. KU is not among them.
Since the pandemic began, the administration’s COVID policies have been driven by a perception of what students want. In July 2020, the Provost argued for in-person classes, based on what was revealed to be a misrepresentation of student survey data. This year’s messaging involves similar proclamations about student desires and expectations (without any allusion to evidence).
Many of our students are excited to be back in the classroom. Many of our students are following KU’s policies. And some of our students are leading the way in advocating for the protection of the health and safety of our campus and community.
This Sunday, September 12th at 2pm, Vaccinate KU, a student movement led by undergraduate Sophie Kunin, and with support from the Graduate Teaching Assistants Coalition (GTAC), is hosting a teach-in and rally in front of Wescoe Hall. An earlier petition from the group for a vaccine requirement on campus garnered over 1000 signatures. Their aim this weekend is to raise further awareness of the need for vaccination. The event will feature speakers from a variety of campus groups and faculty and staff are encouraged to attend.
OneKU supports these students and their activism, which counters the administration’s simplistic characterization of student preferences. We welcome the opportunity to join together with our students and raise our voices in concern.