In the past two weeks alone, professors at a number of colleges and universities have started to rally and call on their institutions to institute stricter Covid-19 protections for the school year about to begin. , including warrants for masks and vaccinations.
Inspired perhaps by the setback they see by K-12 administrators and school boards in Texas and Florida from governors and legislatures that have banned mask and vaccine mandates, the faculty – often joined by students – demands that administrators issue mitigation mandates as the delta strain of the coronavirus continues to ravage vast swathes of the country, crushing the capacity of many hospitals and health systems.
In Iowa, faculty recently circulated a petition asking the Board of Regents at the state’s three public universities to rethink its current position on Covid-19 protocols. According to Citizen of the Iowa City Press, more than 500 people – most University of Iowa professors – have already signed the petition, which recommends a number of tougher mitigation actions the council could allow institutions to take.
He pleads for “swift action and compassion” and urges the board “to put in place policies that will protect our community, our students, our faculty and our staff and preserve the excellence of teaching that is. the hallmark of the University of Iowa … “He specifically advocates for vaccine and mask mandates / incentives and online options for education.
Claiming that faculty morale is at an all-time low, the petition comes at a time when the University of Iowa is the only school in the Big Ten Conference not to require masks to be worn in its Covid-19 semester protocol. fall. The professors seem particularly irritated because the board has the legal capacity to issue a mask warrant but refused to do so.
Professors in Iowa are just the latest group to speak out on what they perceive to be insufficient institutional protections against the new wave of viruses and the restrictions often driven by political considerations and outright intimidation that some state officials have sued, especially against public institutions that seek to impose any mandate.
From June, The University of Minnesota faculty issued a letter calling on this institution to “impose vaccination against COVID-19 for students, professors and staff”. adding: “The U has a simple method to increase immunization coverage. He should use it.
This call was followed by actions similar to the Georgia University System where the faculty circulated a petition calling for both masks and vaccines.
At University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, the faculty’s executive committee met urgently last week and unanimously approved a resolution calling on the UNC system to give the chancellor and president of Chapel Hill the power to demand that students and employees they provide proof of vaccination.
The local chapter of the American Association of University Teachers in University of South Carolina sent a letter to Acting President Dr Harris Pastides calling on him to reinstate a mask warrant which he withdrew after receiving notice from the state attorney general that it was against the law from South Carolina.
Other institutions where faculty and students have recently called for the imposition of masks and / or vaccinations or the repeal of decrees and laws prohibiting them include Pennsylvania State University, Colorado State University, University of Arkansas, Seton Hall University, Southern Methodist University and the Nevada Alliance of Faculties.
University professors have the power to exercise on this issue. More than raising their voice, they can vote with their feet. With the fall semester starting at most institutions over the next two weeks, look for faculty at colleges that do not require masks or vaccines to insist that they be allowed to teach their courses online instead. than in person. It would be a blow to the hundreds, if not thousands, of schools that have pledged that the next semester will see as much as possible a return to a normal campus experience, including face-to-face instruction.
Teachers could also engage in other forms of protest. For example, they could urge students not to return to campuses that do not require vaccines or masks, arguing that their health will not be adequately protected in such circumstances.
A frustrated, angry and fearful faculty will also not hesitate to threaten or take no-confidence votes against administrators perceived to be too weak on this issue. Although such actions rarely result in the removal of a university president, controversy is almost always harmful to both the individual and the institution.
College faculty, staff and students are increasingly willing to face reluctance and hostility to vaccines and challenge the officials who cover them. They have reached a tipping point. And some university leaders are joining them. This comes on top of a hardening of the battle lines around public health mandates just as the fall semester begins. And a growing number of professors think it’s a worthwhile fight.