Vanderbilt University faculty calling on administration to reconsider campus reopening plan

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Nashville, a group of professors and community members at Vanderbilt University are pushing campus leaders to make some big changes to their Fall reopening plan.

More than 400 people have a signed a petition by the school’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors. They are calling for default online teaching for the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, if an instructor still wants to teach face-to-face, they are given the option to do so.

“I personally feel very concerned that we are not doing enough on a structural institutional level to prevent the pandemic from spreading,” said Aimi Hamraie, an Associate Professor at the Vanderbilt. “I think a lot of the responses so far have been about individuals making choices and one example would be wearing masks, which all of us should be doing, but that is not enough by itself to prevent spread.”

Their requests more access to healthcare, testing and accommodations for all employees, be included on the decision-making process moving forward, and for instructors with care-giving responsibilities to have the opportunity to teach online.

Professors are also worried about the administration’s decision to house up to 6,000 undergraduates on campus.

“I hope that universities in general take seriously the task of thinking about our community and doing the best that we can to reduce risk and not treat anyone as life is expendable and believe that it’s acceptable to incur a certain number of COVID-19 cases or deaths,” Hamraie said.

The university did not yet respond to News 2’s request for a comment regarding the petition.

The AAUP is also urging Vanderbilt to do everything in their power to fight against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s decision to not provide visa’s to international students if they are taking a full online course load this semester.

A spokesperson said said the University has joined more than 50 universities and colleges to stop the federal directive. The lawsuit was filed Monday and asks the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to “enjoin the rules from going into effect, citing the value of international diversity to America’s colleges and universities, and asserting that new directive violates the Administrative Procedure Act.”

COVID-19 in Tennessee

(This reflects what the TDH is reporting each day at 2 p.m. CST )

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