Update from the Editor 3/11/20, 15:54 EST: The Administration has decided to suspend the spring semester indefinitely, and move all classes to remote learning. Students can petition for an extension or to remain on campus. The all campus email can be read here, and some more info can be found here.
Update from the Editor 3/11/20, 14:32 EST: To clarify, while we did link the Change.org petition in this post, we are not in this article arguing that the University remain open and that business carry on as usual. As many have stated on twitter here and here, there are obvious risks to having the campus remain entirely open, including, but not limited to, concerns for those who are immunocompromised. We did not make the Change.org petition or have a say in how it was titled. As we have mentioned below, our intention here was to (1) raise concerns that we have, and (2) start a conversation that the administration would have to hear. We are aware that this is an incomplete list of concerns.
Update from the Editor 3/10/20, 19:58 EST: Sign the petition here! Credit goes to Martha Wedner ’22 for making it.
Update from the Editor 3/10/20, 18:12 EST: We have gotten many positive responses to this petition, and are glad that it is starting a conversation. We recognize that we are only four voices that have spoken thus far, and that in our haste to put this out there, there are certain points that we missed. Our main goal was to open a space for testimony and to encourage conversation, as we were concerned was that the University might make this decision without any student input.
In that vein, Huzaifa Khan ’22 has reached out to us to let us know that students with concern or testimony should email him at hkhan[at]wesleyan[dot]edu. The WSA has a coronavirus task force that is working with the University, which means that at least some students are involved in the process. You too can be involved simply by emailing your concerns to Huzaifa, and he will do his best to voice as many concerns as possible at the meeting. Apparently, the decision is likely to be made tomorrow (3/11/20), so voicing your opinion asap is critical.
Just now, the State of Connecticut announced a state of emergency over coronavirus. This morning, Amherst College, a fellow NESCAC, temporarily suspended classes and asked students to move out by the end of their spring break. This afternoon, Middlebury College and Harvard University followed suit. We’re now hearing (through word of mouth) that there is discussion to announce a suspension at Yale later today, Trinity will potentially declare tomorrow, and University of Connecticut is convening discussions as we write this. Notably, none of these schools have any confirmed cases of the coronavirus on their campuses, amongst students or otherwise.
As we see each school escalating the degree to which they are responding to the outbreak and limiting normal functioning at their respective institutions, we cannot help but wonder exactly how this will work, and what the real effect on students will be. Thus far, we have not heard that students are being consulted on how to address COVID-19. While Wesleyan has placed recommended travel restrictions on students and faculty, among other preventative measures, there has been no concrete information from the school except for what we are hearing from friends of friends and over text regarding the potential suspension.
We do not deny that the coronavirus outbreak is a serious public health issue, and we hope that all of those who are affected are receiving proper treatment and care. However, we cannot allow the University to make such a serious decision as suspending classes for the semester without student consultation and without our concerns taken into account. Below, we have listed a series of concerns that we have, and ask that they be addressed as we move forward.
Student concerns regarding a potential shut down: