The United Campus Workers of Georgia will lead a call-in campaign to the University of Georgia administration to demand safer working conditions in the spring semester, according to a news release.
During the week of Dec. 7-11, UCWGA will call UGA President Jere Morehead’s office to raise “concerns about proposed financial incentives to maximize in-person instruction framed to improve mental health and the reduced mental health resources for those insured under UGA’s United Health Care Student Resources insurance plan,” according to the release. The organization is demanding mandatory COVID-19 testing and remote instruction for the first two weeks of the spring semester.
Savannah Downing, UCWGA’s COVID-19 committee chair, said the campaign is in response to a memo UCWGA received from UGA detailing financial incentives for in-person instruction. She said other University System of Georgia schools have more robust testing programs, such at Georgia Tech.
“Leadership at UGA is sort of deferring to USG, and we’re asking them to stand up for our community to protect us,” said Downing, a second-year Ph.D. student and instructor in the Department of Communication Studies. “We also recognize this as a racial justice issue as well, and so I think it’s really important to think about who is going to be most impacted.”
Racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 due to long-standing health inequities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Downing said anybody can call Morehead’s office during the week to voice their concerns and personal stories. She said UCWGA is still pushing for its full list of demands it has had since the beginning of the semester, but these two demands are a “step in the right direction for spring.”
Bryant Barnes, a Ph.D. history student, is also supporting the call-in campaign. He hopes the USG Board of Regents will take steps to make spring semester safer for UGA students, faculty and staff. Barnes said he, along with other students, experienced stress from fall semester because of COVID-19.
“If we’re going to open campus, let’s do it right,” Barnes said.