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The University of Georgia Administration Building on North Campus. (Photo/Jason Born)

As the University of Georgia plans for the first day of class in one week, faculty members and university administration are engaged in a back-and-forth debate over certain aspects of the COVID-19 reopening plan.

Faculty senators in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and Mary Frances Early College of Education sent a joint statement on July 28 to UGA President Jere Morehead and University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley about their concerns with USG and UGA plans for reopening campus during COVID-19.

The statement calls for increasing asymptomatic testing and issuing clear guidelines that would result in campus closure and a move to fully online classes. Faculty senators also want community-wide town halls, transparent reporting of positive COVID-19 cases and for any student, faculty or staff member to be able to work remotely without penalty.

Faculty senators gave Morehead and Wrigley until Aug. 4 to respond to the statement. Both sent responses on Aug. 4, with Morehead calling the claims in the statement “unsubstantiated and inappropriate.”

Debating a new committee

The University Council met Thursday to discuss endorsing the joint statement.

While Morehead said in his letter that he isn’t sure where the senators have the authority to comment on these matters, professor Laura Bierema said that in the University Statutes, faculty members “have the right to criticize” academic and non-academic university policies. Bierema teaches in the Early College of Education and was one of the faculty members involved in initiating the petition that created Wednesday’s special meeting.

Over 1,100 users tuned into the two-hour meeting, which was livestreamed on YouTube while council members met via Zoom. The comment section was active with professors, staff and students voicing their concerns. The council could not see the comments.

Senators cited the need for a body that accurately represents faculty, staff and student voices of the university community in the joint statement. There were nine working groups including over 30 faculty members that worked on the reopening plan, Morehead said, and the only bodies that remain in operation are faculty-driven.

Professors and graduate assistants have continually demanded the right to make their own decisions to teach remotely. Currently, instructors must get approval from associate deans, deans and the provost in order to make their classes completely online.

The council voted 96-54 to create a COVID-19 Crisis Response Committee of 12 elected council members that are more representative of the faculty, staff and students on campus. Six faculty members didn’t vote on the motion.

The council did not name specific individuals who would serve on the committee. The group is required to make monthly COVID-19 status reports and consult with already active working groups, including the Preventative Measures Advisory Board and the Medical Oversight Task Force.

UGA School of Law Dean Bo Rutledge was against the creation of a new committee. “I don’t believe that it will adequately advance the goals here, and may end up ultimately being counterproductive,” he said.

Rutledge is a member of the instruction working group, which developed guidelines for classrooms and instructors for the fall. He felt it was “diversely represented by a wide number of schools.” There are a variety of colleges, services and departments represented on this particular working group, but there is only one faculty member named. The other members are deans and administrative staff.

Possible job loss and testing capacity

Professors and staff members have also advocated for protecting jobs at all levels in the event of a transition to fully online instruction.

“If we were to move fully online, there is no question that there would have to be layoffs,” Morehead said.

Ryan Nesbit, vice president for finance and administration, added that auxiliary services workers in dining, housing and transportation would be most affected because their jobs are funded through student fees. Faculty and administrative staff would be more protected if UGA moves online, he said.

“I’m very concerned about the reality of being able to preserve those types of jobs without the revenue being generated,” Nesbit said.

Faculty also criticized UGA’s asymptomatic testing capabilities. UGA plans to test 300 volunteers per day. The Georgia Institute of Technology announced in an email to students and employees that it will test 1,500 people per day. Schools such as Auburn University and the University of South Carolina are requiring students to receive COVID-19 tests before they move on campus.

Provost Jack Hu said UGA’s ability to create a testing site on Legion Field is “a miracle,” especially since the campus doesn’t have a hospital or medical school other than its Medical Partnership with Augusta University.

Lisa Nolan, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, said UGA has 10,000 saliva tests ready for rapid deployment, as well as the capability to increase testing capacity in the lab. Nolan said UGA needs approval before distributing more tests, but didn’t say from whom or if the university is in the process of trying to get approval.

The council voted 87-64 against endorsing the joint statement by the faculty senators. Twelve members didn’t vote on the resolution. This may increase the likelihood of the two schools issuing a vote of no confidence in Morehead, the USG Board of Regents and Wrigley.

On Aug. 11, Franklin College faculty senators discussed the idea of a vote of no confidence in the near future. This vote acts solely as a public expression of the lack of faith in USG leadership, said English professor Christopher Pizzino.

The vote would send a clear message as students head back to the classroom — or the chat room — on Aug. 20 that administration and some faculty still can’t agree on the reopening plan.

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(8) comments

wjabbe

To anonymous Existo commenter Aug. 14: As stated earlier almost all animals make their own stores of Vitamin C. They carry it with them for all viral emergencies. This is why they have not all died off long ago. They provide a massive trial much more honest and at much lower cost than any of the corrupt so called "scientists" could or would do no matter how much money was thrown at it. Humans do not make Vitamin C for reasons explained by the late top scientist Fred Klenner MD in the reference cited. It is obvious you have not read one word of Klenner's great scientific papers on Vitamin C. In that you are just like the corrupt non scientists you emulate. They hate Vitamin C because it is cheap, safe and effective. There are almost an infinite number of viruses with only a very small number having corresponding vaccines which are extremely expensive to develop and almost never have all possible side effects or main effects fully elucidated. We don't need shills like you to defend the totally corrupt medical establishment; they do that very well on their own. Again this is all about a five letter obscene word MONEY and how it can be diverted from being spent on Vitamin C to being spent by the corrupt non scientists at Big Pharma. Winfield J. Abbe, A.B., UC Berkeley, Physics, 1961, M.S. Physics California State University at Los Angeles 1962, Ph.D. Physics UC Riverside, 1966, Institute of Science and Technology Fellow Univ ersity of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1966-1967, faculty member at UGA with lifetime tenure 1966-1978; voluntarily resigned due to lying and cheating by two deans and three department heads to the tenured faculty for over 5 years. If Anonymous Existo wants to influence the debate he or she should have the guts and integrity state his name and qualifications.

wjabbe

With all the professors at UGA with fancy doctoral degrees in many subjects and fancy law degrees and others there is a great deal of ignorance. All this is a tempest in a teapot. Testing for the virus is not necessary especially likely fake false tests. Online courses are not necessary. What is necessary is for these many ignorant and bigoted Ph.D.'s and others to begin to read the articles below by the late Fred Klenner, M.D. the top world authority on vital diseases in his time and how the simple high dose of this miracle substance cures these diseases simply, cheaply and safely every time! Ignorance is a terrible thing to observe especially at a so called "University" or "Institution of Higher Learning". Shame on all of you especially those in the corrupt and ignorant School of Pharmacy! Winfield J. Abbe, Ph.D, Physics citizen for 54 years. Bigotry and Prejudice against high dose Vitamin C by folks with the "highest" degrees have no place in a so called "Institution for higher learning". Stop listening to the liars in Big Pharma who hate Vitamin C because it is cheap, safe and effective but lacks the billions of dollars of profits of fancy vaccines which may have many bad and dangerous main effects.

existo

If you can get funding, do some clinical trials on Vitamin C for COVID-19 patients and get back to us. Until then, shame on you for thinking that science should have stopped trying new things 36 years ago.

wjabbe

Here is a quote from the first article above by the late Fred Klenner, M.D.:

Ancient History and Homespun Vitamin C Therapies

"Folklore of past civilizations report that for every disease afflicting man there is an herb or its equivalent that will effect a cure. In Puerto Rico the story has long been told "that to have the health tree Acerola in one's back yard would keep colds out of the front door."[1] The ascorbic acid content of this cherry-like fruit is thirty times that found in oranges. In Pennsylvania, U.S.A., it was, and for many still is, Boneset, scientifically called Eupatorium perfoliatum[2]. Although it is now rarely prescribed by physicians, Boneset was the most commonly used medicinal plant of eastern United States. Most farmsteads had a bundle of dried Boneset in the attic or woodshed from which a most bitter tea would be meted out to the unfortunate victim of a cold or fever. Having lived in that section of the country we qualified many times for this particular drink. The Flu of 1918 stands out very forcefully in that the Klenners survived when scores about us were dying. Although bitter it was curative and most of the time the cure was overnight. Several years ago my curiosity led me to assay this "herbal medicine" and to my surprise and delight I found that we had been taking from ten to thirty grams of natural vitamin C at one time. Even then it was given by body weight. Children one cupful; adults two to three cupfuls. Cups those days held eight ounces. Twentieth century man seemingly forgets that his ancestors made crude. drugs from various plants and roots, and that these decoctions, infusions, juices, powders, pills and ointments served his purpose. Elegant pharmacy has only made the forms and shapes more acceptable."

Winfield J. Abbe, Ph.D., Physics

wjabbe

There are many questions about these alleged tests for the virus: Who and where were these tests developed? Do they induce the disease itself? What is the proof they work? Etc . The late Fred Klenner, M.D. was the pioneer in curing all viral diseases up to and including polio before 1949. Everyone at UGA, all administrators, all students, all faculty should read these seminal papers: www.doctoryourself.com/klennerpaper.html http://orthomolecular.org/library/jom/1991/pdf/1991-v06n02-p099.pdf High dose Vitamin C is central to controlling and curing these diseases yet it is not even mentioned or discussed here. All higher animals make their own Vitamin C but humans do not. This is why it is vital for all humans to take orders of grams per day to maintain health and prevent viral diseases. All the corrupt FDA approves is a trivial 60 milligrams per day. This is outrageous. There is no money in preventing disease with cheap, safe and effective high dose Vitamin C. I recently purchased 1 kilogram of powdered Vitamin C for about 10 cents per gram! Even President Morehead should read the above articles. Dr. Klenner believed all viral diseases can be simply, cheaply and safely cured and controlled this way without complicated and possibly dangerous vaccines. How about UGA being a leader in this effort instead of a follower? Winfield J. Abbe, Ph.D., Physics citizen for 54 years.

sale1

I don't believe all of those posting comments during the stream were from the UGA community. Some of the comments were frivolous and not appropriate given the gravity of the situation. However, there were many sincere expressions of dismay and concern over the reopening plans. It was was good that there was a venue for that. I wish, though, that a recording of the stream had been kept online. When I checked yesterday evening, the video and chat were not accessible.

accidentalcio

Just a thought regarding the live stream "chat." Far too many of the comments went beyond expressing concerns. Some commentators crossed the line by trolling and ridiculing speakers, both faculty and administrators, for merely expressing an opinion for which they disagreed. For example, one of the speakers, one of UGA's most esteemed faculty researchers who has served the University community and its students for over 30 years, was labeled with a derogatory term. The demeaning of this prior recipient of the University's Creative Research Medal was for raising some questions regarding the wisdom of the proposed resolution. It's reasonable to expect better behavior on the part of those participating in an exchange of ideas via social media, even those commenting with anonymity. Someone who has given so much to the University deserves better.

existo

You heard it here first, folks: winning an award means no one can ever ridicule your beliefs or actions, no matter how dangerous or condescending, forever.

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