Above photo: Getty images.
The University of Georgia staff and graduate students held a silent “die-in” demonstration Friday to protest plans for the campus reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nearly 50 demonstrators lay scattered 6 feet apart wearing face coverings on the lawn outside the school administration’s building, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Some protesters held signs resembling tombstones with phrases like “R.I.P. campus safety,” or “In loving memory.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in roughly 160,000 deaths in the U.S. since the start of the outbreak in January. Older adults are typically more prone to severe coronavirus infections, although individuals with weakened immune systems are also at high risk.
The demonstrators have a list of demands corresponding to the protest, including petitions for more COVID-19 testing and offering faculty members the liberty to teach remotely. Currently, faculty must seek permission from the school to teach remote online courses.
The group submitted a petition with 1,002 signatures along with the list of demands to an employee in the administration building.
Graduate student Bryant Barnes said the school’s current testing plans would not be enough to accommodate consistently testing all students and employees.
Sujata Iyengar, a professor at the school since 1998 who joined protesters, said she thinks university officials “have not thought this through,” adding that more classes should be held outside rather than indoors, where the virus spreads more easily.
“We have affirmatively addressed the core of these concerns through our comprehensive planning over the summer,” the school said in the statement, adding that the university has committed $250,000 for emergency funds to aid students who have critical and sudden financial emergencies.
The University of Georgia will resume classes for the fall semester on Aug. 20.