TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - As the U of A prepares to resume in-person classes this fall, university leaders are receiving push back from members of the campus community who delivered a letter opposing the re-entry plan.
“We’re very concerned that we’re moving too quickly on campus and this is putting people’s lives at risk,” said Celeste Gonzáles de Bustamante, who is an associate professor at the U of A and one of nearly 1,300 people, made up of faculty, staff and students, who signed the letter by the Coalition for Academic Justice at the University of Arizona.
“We’re very concerned about bringing 20,000 students back in a matter of weeks and the potential dangers that could cause for the university as well as the Tucson community,” Gonzáles de Bustamante said via Zoom.
Casey Richardson, a Ph.D. Student in Second Language Acquisition & Teaching, also signed the letter and fears the campus could turn into a hotspot.
“The university itself isn’t under a bubble so if students are getting sick on-campus or off-campus, they’re interacting with the broader Tucson community and we certainly don’t want to have a negative impact there as well.”
The letter says the re-entry must incorporate a number of actions, including an understanding of COVID’s differential impact on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and on all marginalized populations. Gonzáles de Bustamante says 30 percent of the campus population is LatinX.
“The LatinX community is disproportionally impacted by COVID-19 and that should also be taken into consideration when we think about what kind of re-entry plans we’re designing,” she said.
UA President Dr. Robert Robbins says they are.
“The concerns about our most vulnerable and marginalized students, faculty, and staff were absolutely in our plan, trying the best to provide the maximum protection we can for everyone particularly our most vulnerable and marginalized populations.”