‘U’ community requests greater transparency and flexibility in reopening plans
Rackham student Jeff Lockhart is a member of the Graduate Employees’ Organization’s COVID Caucus.
Lockhart also discussed a report the University Ethics and Privacy Committee published on June 8 which analyzes the University’s response to COVID-19 and considerations that must be made for all parties involved as the pandemic wears on. The report included encouragement of a joint-decision making process between administration, students and faculty for the fall semester.
“It says that students and faculty and staff should be involved in the decision-making capacity from the beginning about fall reopening but the graduate student union and other graduate student groups have all been shut out, even the lecturers employees union has been mostly shut out,” Lockhart said. “They’ll tell you that we’re having conversations but we deliver lists of proposals and they dismiss all the proposals without talking about anything specifically.”
The report also mentioned the University’s ethical liability surrounding COVID-19 risk on campus, saying “The University has a substantial obligation to (tell faculty and staff about) … actual and projected levels of success as best we can gauge them (and the risk associated with these processes).”
Lockhart agrees with the content of the report and believes the University cannot ignore the potential for infection risk across campus.
“Even if they make us sign waivers — which they’re trying to do — and even if the government passes a law that says they’re not liable if we die, the report says they’re still ethically liable for people getting sick and dying,” Lockhart said. “The University has it in writing from their own ethics committee that their liability is not gone … the University can’t actually guarantee safety and use the word ‘safe’ to describe the buildings we have classes and we have offices (in) and where some of us sleep at night.”