Students for Safe Learning make their demands clear at protest for stricter COVID-19 policies

The student-led group held a protest to talk about COVID-19 protocol

Students gather outside the Student Center to protest for increased COVID-19 mitigation measures. Photo by Daniel Newman

During the chilly afternoon of Jan. 25, five students gathered outside of the Cleveland State University Student Center to speak out against the university’s current guidelines regarding COVID-19.

Using a megaphone, posters, and their own ambitions, the protest was organized by the group Students for Safe Learning. After creating a petition, Instagram, and Twitter accounts, Students for Safe Learning have organized students to call for the university to take further caution in fighting against the virus.

CSU is one of the Ohio colleges and universities that has not instated a vaccination requirement. Many others, across the state and in Cleveland, have done so.

While the group has mentioned having no intention of creating tension with the CSU leadership team, they made demands during the protest to substantially change the current protocol.

Their demands, posted on the group’s Instagram page, comprised five points:

  • Commit to giving students in all courses the option to attend their classes remotely
  • Commit to proper social distancing in all in-person classes
  • Provide N95 masks and enforce that these are worn at all times
  • Require CSU students, staff, and faculty who attend in-person classes to test weekly
  • Restrict dining halls to only grab-and-go in order to prevent the congregation of large unmasked groups

Each student gave reasons for participating: “We were very disappointed in how CSU was handling COVID-19 and we came together as students to protest against this.”

“It’s not only important to keep our students safe, but to also keep their families safe,” another student later mentioned. “When we hear about students going home and getting family members sick, it’s essentially the University’s fault for not taking proper measures to prevent this.”

One comment mentioned that the University should probably listen to the people they pay, and to the people who pay them. This perspective was agreed on by all members of the protest and later connected to the question of how many of those people truly care as much as the members of SFSL.

“I know from observing the Faculty Senate Meetings, the president of SGA has specifically spoken about this issue and how he supports our point of view,” one of their main speakers chimed in. “He is the representation of our student body, and I’ve heard of many students and senators coming to him and asking him about this topic.”

Student Government Association President Martin Barnard recently took to Instagram to inform the student body he was planning to present additional COVID-19 guidelines to the Faculty Senate at their previous February meeting.

Faculty is also of concern to SFSL. They suggested that the faculty members at Cleveland State University are just as important as students, and the group has found support from many of them as well. An open letter from Faculty Senate President Robert Krebbs stated the frustration he and other faculty felt on the burdens placed on faculty to enforce COVID restrictions, putting themselves at risk. He also mentioned that Faculty Senate voted overwhelmingly for a vaccine mandate in the fall of 2021, as well as linked the SFSL petition.

With over 600 signatures on their petition, SFSL has substantial backing from students and looks forward to continuing to be heard in every way.

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