The Associated Students of Madison Student Council leadership released a statement Friday voicing their support for Moral Restart — a Teaching Assistant’s Association promoted university reopening plan involving all online classes and a reduced number of dorm occupants.
In a statement shared online, ASM stated their disappointment with the University of Wisconsin’s current Smart Restart reopening plan, which includes a hybrid class model with both online and in-person classes.
ASM said they support a move to fully online classes with expanded disability services from the McBurney center and for students to be able to access learning materials asynchronously without attendance penalties.
Under the Smart Restart plan, the university said no students would be required to attend in-person classes and that a high quality online alternative will be available.
ASM Shared Governance Chair Katie McGlasson spoke about ASM’s decision to support a move to online classes in an email to The Badger Herald.
“Our decision to support a move to fully online classes was a difficult one,” McGlasson said. “However, given the increase in cases in both students and University Staff, we felt it was a necessary one … I think that especially given the circumstances, the university has a responsibility to provide online instruction at a caliber that validates the tuition, and at this time I struggle to say they’ve accomplished this.”
McGlasson said many classes need more support and resources to make them more accessible to students and to justify the cost of tuition associated with them.
In addition, ASM called for UW to lower the number of residents in dorms on campus with refunds given to students who are sent home. ASM said in their statement the current dorm capacity is “unsustainable and unsafe.”
ASM said priority to stay in the dorms should be given to students who do not have reliable internet access at home or do not have a safe or reliable home situation to return to.
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“We also discussed at length our own concerns about students spreading the virus further if they were sent home,” McGlasson said. “If we see a scenario where students are removed from residence halls, we hope that the university will take a vested interest in preventing the spread across the country.”
To attend any in-person campus events, ASM demanded the university require attendees to have a negative COVID-19 test on file from within the last week. Additionally, in their statement ASM requested the university meet with campus labor unions.
ASM has also asked for paid leave for all university employees and financial support for student hourly workers who are unable to work during the pandemic. They requested the university pay all workers at least $15 an hour.
“The university should not shift the burden of the fiscal crisis onto low-income workers and vulnerable communities and therefore reinstate the $15 per hour promised wage for all workers and extend it to student workers,” the statement said.
In an email to The Badger Herald, ASM Press Director Jacob Broehm said ASM considers moving classes online and providing paid leave to all university employees the highest two priorities among their demands because they believe those actions will help slow the spread of the virus the most efficiently.
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Chancellor Blank sent a letter to students Monday reiterating the University’s request for students to engage in smart behavior and limit unnecessary movements around campus. Additionally, Blank said all in-person events on campus would be cancelled or moved online, restricting visitors in residence halls and closing rec well facilities.
Following Blank’s letter to students, ASM released a second email statement saying that, while they support UW cancelling events and encouraging students to reduce nonessential movements, it is not enough.
ASM has asked to meet with UW administrators to discuss their concerns and demands.
“The University must understand that we are in the midst of a global pandemic that is taking lives,” the statement said. “The only acceptable number of student deaths is zero.”