Protest Led by School of Social Work Students Decries University’s Spring COVID Policies
Organizers seek remote learning until positivity rate reaches 1 percent
Protest Led by School of Social Work Students Decries University’s Spring COVID Policies
Organizers want remote learning until positivity rate reaches one percent
About three dozen students gathered outside One Silber Way on Tuesday afternoon to protest the BU COVID policies for the semester, which they say aren’t enough to protect students and faculty.
“Sick students can’t learn! Sick teachers can’t teach!” chanted the group, hoping that the administration could hear them on the upper floors of the building.
An ad hoc group from the School of Social Work organized the protest, which was also attended by students from the School of Theology, as well as from elsewhere on campus, and a few faculty members. SSW students have circulated a petition and a safety demands toolkit, and they recently met with Jorge Delva, SSW dean and Paul Farmer Professor, to express their concerns. But with no change in policy, they decided to take to the sidewalks.
“We need to keep each other safe,” said one of the organizers, Ashley Shen (SSW’23), who led chants of “Be Better, BU!”
“Make President Brown hear!” said organizer David Andrade (SSW’23), who banged a metal pot and spoon as he led a group that walked out of SSW and down Bay State Road to the protest. “At least listen to us and keep us safe.”
The group’s primary demands are that the University switch to remote learning until BU’s COVID-19 positivity rate is one percent or less and that BU make available additional accommodations for students, instructors, and administrative staff who are isolating/quarantining because of COVID-19 exposure or illness so they can continue their academic or job responsibilities remotely.
While the University’s protocols have shifted this semester, President Robert A. Brown did announce that faculty may provide recordings of lectures for students in isolation or quarantine through February 18, at which time the policy will be reassessed. Also, faculty members who test positive for COVID, but are well enough to teach, will be allowed to move their classes to remote learning via Zoom for the duration of their isolation period, currently five days.
But that isn’t enough for the protestors in the face of the highly contagious Omicron variant, especially when some area universities, including Harvard, have returned to remote learning for the beginning of the semester.
“Masks are disposable, people are not,” said one sign. Turning one of BU’s 2020 anti-COVID slogans back around, the demonstrators chanted, “F*ck it won’t cut it!”
Several students took turns at the megaphone, explaining why they were there, including that they are immune-compromised themselves or are concerned for the elderly people and children that many social work students work with in internships and field placements.
“The lack of contact tracing was for me one of the things that pushed me over the edge,” said Jaye Ward (SSW’23), another organizer. “I work with elderly people in a residential setting in my internship, and I have elderly family members.”
She said she understands the value of in-person learning—she had deferred her admission to SSW in 2020 to avoid all-remote classes—“but to protect the wider community, it’s a sacrifice I would make.”
Ward also brought a lighter note to the event with a sign reading: Maybe if I develop feelings 4 COVID it will leave.
“ faculty may provide recordings of lectures for students in isolation or quarantine” is another way of saying they can also choose NOT to as many professors are currently doing.
It may be worth noting that many BU classrooms are not equipped to record lectures. I suspect that quite a few faculty members who are not currently providing recordings would be happy to do so, but don’t have the resources, and aren’t receiving assistance from the institution.
I agree. I personally have yet to hear about a professor not complying with recording the lecture so I’m not quite sure where this statement is coming from. And this should be directly addressed, not make it a problem for everyone else. The only professor I know who had concern was because he is elderly and doesn’t know how to manage technical equipment. So going remote would just make it more difficult for staff and students.
There are legal issues with recording lectures … for one, in Massachusetts, by law you need the consent of all students (and faculty) in the class.
Moreover, my experience is that the classroom environment becomes much less interactive when everyone knows that any stupid thing they say may be stored for posterity on the Internet.
A better option would be to allow live Zoom-casting of lectures to those who are quarantined.
No, consent not required. Just notice that the recording is occurring.
I believe you are mistaken. Consent may be implied (Commonwealth v. Morganti) if a person stays on a call knowing that it is being recorded … but it is not reasonable to require students to leave a classroom (of a class they are taking) to avoid being recorded.
The language in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 272, § 99 (https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartIV/TitleI/Chapter272/Section99) is
“given prior authority by all parties to such communication”
Wearing masks, outside, in the cold…
How many years into this pandemic are we and they still think the masks are needed outdoors? And they are advocating for MY safety?
BU seriously needs to do better… at reading applications.
I don’t know, the masks certainly help with the wind chill. If I were standing around out in the cold like that, I’d be wearing one too.
Maybe if we stop testing asymptomatic vaccinated individuals, the positivity rate will plummet and everyone will be happy.
asymptomatic individuals still spread the virus…
How about a protest that happened in DC? 17,000 doctors decry covid policies. That is an event worth covering especially by BU experts.
Getting really tired of all the COVID nonsense, the vaccine is available, it’s up to you to take it. With the vaccine, this is nothing but a typical flu, and in most cases mild. How many vaccinated people have died? Where’s the stats? If you can’t take it, or won’t take it, that’s on you and not the rest of society to make concessions.
That said, all classes should have remote learning availability for purposes of flexibility alone regardless of COVID. It’s the dawn of a new age, time to recognize it. Stop trying to milk the students for every dollar, that’s the end game here forcing people to campus, it’s plain as day.
Quite a few faculty, staff and some graduate students have children under 5 who are not eligible to be vaccinated. People above the age of 65-70 are at greater risk even if they ARE vaccinated, and some people also have immune system problems and other conditions that prevent them from vaccinating.
Making this an issue of individual choice and consequences is a morally bankrupt stance. We can’t let people who refuse to get vaccinated for specious reasons off the hook. They’re endangering many members of our society, and so are the rest of us if we just shrug and say “oh well, most people will be fine.”
I think that Omicron has made abundantly clear that both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals can get infected and widely transmit the disease. It is morally (and scientifically!) wrong to discriminate against the COVID-unvaccinated because of the steady stream of propaganda in the press.
The unvaccinated tend to get sicker and take up hospital beds. Health care workers are burned out and those with other serious health conditions have to wait for care.
So do the obese, smokers, alcoholics, or even the homeless, … do you think it is appropriate to restrict their access to healthcare, work, or public accommodation?
I don’t know about you … but I don’t want random bureaucrats making moral judgements about which behaviors to punish. I know we’re close to Salem, but I would like to think that we have moved on from its history.
Good points, but only to a degree, you missed the point, maybe I didn’t make it clear. People who refuse to get vaccinated are people who have decided to endanger others who can’t get vaccinated, fully agree, and as a result I have little sympathy for these people.
My argument has nothing to do with vaccinations, I am fully in favor of vaccinations, and I have no issue with vaccine mandate either. What I do take issue with is changing the course of society for the few who represent .001% of society. I believe the concessions need to be made for these folks, not the greater population. The folks who are at risk can stay isolated, wear masks, etc.
Simplified example: In a town with 1 boy in a bubble, do we all wear masks so this kid can leave the bubble, or do we make the bubble a better place for him? I think making the bubble a better place for him is the way to go.
Based on this, I think BU should have remote learning available for every class even if being taught live in person. I also believe we are in changing times, and it is clear that there are numerous benefits to remote learning, remote work, like reduction in carbon emission. Less traffic, I can go on and on.. This is the land of the free and the controlled, lets reduce the control and focus on allowing more freedoms. End of story here.
You make interesting points and all are valid and good. Except for your analogy. That 1 boy in a bubble — he is not endangering anyone else from inside of his bubble. Nobody else’s life is impacted by his bubble. So that’s why nobody else has to wear masks around him. He is protected by his bubble. But the people choosing to not get vaccinated — that decision does impact other people. As the science has so clearly shown, the unvaccinated — not the vaccinated — are the ones filling our hospital beds, exhausting front line workers, taking hospital beds from other people. So your analogy unfortunately is not apples-to-apples. The boy in the bubble is not the equivalent of an unvaccinated person.
Children face minimal risk from Covid, even unvaccinated.
The fact that children below 5 are still not eligible for a vaccine, despite the push from politicians and the influence big pharma companies can buy, speaks on its own.
It’s simply hard to justify a clear risk to benefit ratio.
It’s also disheartening, that those at minimal risk face the most severe restrictions.
A 60+ year old adult can eat maskless in a restaurant, or even fly in business class enjoying (always without a mask) the treatments and benefits of his/her class during the whole flight.
Yet, toddlers need to be masked even in schools.
We grow a generation that will never see the faces of its peers and teachers. Has spent months after months in the lower level substitute of education that remote learning provides and will most certainly face the negative impact that a limited social interaction (masked and distanced) has on its mentality.
Enough is enough! The “I don’t give a s**t about COVID anymore, let life return to normal!” is the most sincere, socially beneficial and healthy attitude on can adopt. Everything else simply ignores the advances of science (vaccines+treatments), can not understand that at this point the cost of any restrictions (mentally and financially) clearly outweighs any benefits, prolonges the misery.
This protest incredibly unnecessary. Covid is being spread outside of classes! When will that concept get through people’s closed-minded heads. It is when people go out to eat, meet up with friends, travel, etc. There are covid testing sights, vaccination and mask requirements, that prevent the spread!
Everyone I talk to, doesn’t want to go remote. This is a very small group of privileged people who want to complain and get their way. Grow up and find a problem that is not already being addressed and whine about that.
Frustrated that many of the social media posts circling have stated “We, the BU School of Social Work demand” when the reality is that this group is a very small percent of the BUSSW… while I support individuals right to protest and share their concerns – they do not speak for everyone in the school of social work and shouldn’t claim to.
Please make it worth noting – these students represent a very small portion of BUSSW and not a single person I have talked to agrees with this protest. Makes me worried for the community organizing education we are receiving if my classmates don’t know how to properly organize by generating outreach and finding the actual needs of the community.
Keep you safe?? BU has gone above and beyond to provide. Why don’t these students just take a leave until all of this is over. They don’t represent the overwhelming majority of students who are fine with the current situation if not completely over all of the protocols that are still in place.
Omicron is the common cold for most people. That being said one should have the option to take classes remotely as an option against opting into BU’s draconian COVID protocols, such as not being able to remove a mask to drink WATER during class. In addition, if one is concerned about catching Omicron, why not give them an option to go remote? Something has to give. I do not want to be present in a class I am denied the human right of drinking water. Let me have the option to take courses online or let me attend class like we do every where else in Boston without having these super harsh protocols enforced. No one is wearing N95s and being denied water at bars, restaurants, Celtics games, or anywhere else. All of us who do not follow any of these protocols anywhere else in life outside of BU can attend class like it was meant to be and those who are concerned or at risk can opt for online. Everyone wins!
Let BU know that they need to maintain Covid protocols! https://chng.it/PY8F25QdSP