Southerneastern Louisiana University student Thora Hughes has started a petition against the planned reopening of campus, citing concerns over infection rates from COVID-19. The Hammond, Louisiana university has a student body of over 14,000 graduate and undergraduates.
According to the petition, students will have to attend “hybrid classes” – which means a mix of in-person and online learning, similar to the model that New Orleans Public Schools intend to offer.
As schools statewide begin phased reopening, yesterday a fourth child died from conditions caused by COVID-19.
But that still means students have to come into contact with each other. Assuming half capacity still puts roughly 7,000 students on campus at any given time. And cases have risen at a greater rate among people under 30 than any other age demographic in Louisiana. “These are your working class,” the petition states. “The same working class which heavily makes up your student body.”
As a result, signatories have expressed concern over plans to reopen Southeastern, especially in light of what students see as inadequate precautions taken by the university.
“My fiancé is pregnant and there is only 1 accounting class online,” Brandon said. “Northwestern has a whole accounting program online. That university is more willing to do for their students than SELU is.”
Chloe, a student who works in the service industry, said that requiring her to return to campus would force her to choose between school and work.
“I want to continue my education,” she wrote. “But if a fellow student or professor I come in contact with tests positive for COVID, I cannot afford to support myself financially and quarentine [sic] for a minimum of two weeks while continuing my education.”
Chloe compared this decision to the online learning that the university offered in the spring semester, which she described as successful. “Having a more flexible schedule, I felt I was able to put more time and effort and took more away from the courses.”
According to the University’s website, a number of campus offices are currently open, “with others expected to resume on-campus operations in the weeks ahead.”
The University posted a spreadsheet that lists offices and departments that have resumed campus presence, but it is not accessible to the public.
With traditional school dates approaching, many are worried that the University has “no real plans” for adequately ensuring the safety of their students, like Libby, who noted that COVID cases are still on the rise. The consensus among petition signers is that they just want the option to stay safe.
“The students at Southeastern deserve a choice,” the petition reads. “[S]tudents should have the option for online only classes.”
To view the petition in full, click here.