MILWAUKEE — A group of Marquette students, staff, and faculty is raising concerns over the University's reopening plan.
They say a return to normal campus operations with communal living conditions in dorms while establishing insufficient cleaning protocols and inadequate ventilation on campus makes it highly likely that Marquette will experience an outbreak of COVID-19 soon after returning to campus. Undergraduate classes are set to begin on August 26.
The group is planning a protest march/bike/ride for noon on Sunday.
The group, who are calling themselves The Concerned Students, Staff, and Faculty Marquette University, said "Irresponsible in the extreme for the University to suggest it is currently capable of providing in-person education safely throughout the semester."
They said that the University has, "consistently shown that their understanding of stewardship has everything to do with new buildings and future expansions and little to do with the health and wellbeing of its students and employees."
The group says the University has shifted its plans and justifications regarding face-to-face education over time and says students and faculty are frustrated about the over conflicting messages.
In the release, the students, faculty, and staff listed four demands:
- Faculty and staff should be given discretion over their working conditions, and online work should be accommodated for all.
- The administration should offer voluntary recognition in writing of a union for non-tenure-track faculty, grad workers, and any other campus unit interested in organizing to ensure that all employees have a collective voice in their working conditions going forward.
- Given the demonstrated lack of consideration for the well-being of Marquette employees, the administration must give faculty and staff a formal and substantive role in the University's budget process to ensure all reasonable options are considered before laying-off or furloughing workers.
- We demand that Marquette live up to its commitment to racial justice and act as a responsible neighbor in a Near West Side community in which many residents are uninsured and face systematic discrimination in accessing adequate health care.
Following the concerns from the organization, Marquette issued the following statement:
The health, safety, and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors is of the utmost importance to Marquette. Working in close coordination with public health experts, our COVID-19 Response Team – comprised of a cross-section of more than 100 experts across campus – developed a five-step plan for a phased reopening of campus, which was approved by the Milwaukee Health Department. To help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we are opening in a hybrid learning model with fewer students living residentially. Our phased approach provides the flexibility to continuously monitor the latest developments and guidance and allows us to quickly move between steps as appropriate while still providing the personalized, on-campus academic and co-curricular experience that is foundational to our Catholic, Jesuit education.