Letter to the editor: College’s reopening decision ignores those disproportionately affected by COVID-19 pandemic

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As alumni committed to honoring the legacy of the university’s first Black graduate, the Hulon Willis Association strongly denounces the College of William and Mary’s decision to resume in-person instruction this fall.

The decision to re-open in August fails to adequately consider Black, Latinx and Indigenous students, faculty, staff and community members, and others disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead of gambling with our lives, the College  should commit to independent/self-directed hybrid instruction and offer on-campus educational, housing, and dining services only to students who have demonstrated the greatest need to be physically present on campus.

The decision to re-open in August fails to adequately consider Black, Latinx and Indigenous students, faculty, staff and community members …

Many important considerations do not appear to be addressed in The Path Forward. Should W&M proceed with its audacious plan to re-open with in-person sessions: How will W&M respond to those who refuse to wear masks in classroom settings or elsewhere, in accordance with CDC guidelines? How will individuals with existing health concerns and/or inadequate health insurance be protected? When exposure to a positive carrier inevitably occurs, are there protocols for contact tracing designed to inform those potentially exposed, while simultaneously complying with HIPAA guidelines? How will W&M address the potential mental health crises that arise from fear of exposure or the fear of spread from an asymptomatic carrier to those who are already at high risk?

The Hulon Willis Association fully supports the Open Letter from William & Mary Black and Brown Faculty and Administrators, and the W&M Workers’ Union response to “The Path Forward: Fall 2020.” The Union Workers’ demands regarding non-tenure eligible faculty (NTE) are fair and should be met if W&M is to continue to espouse the mantra, “One Tribe, One Family.”

“One Tribe, One Family” means making the moral decision, especially when it’s hard.

Email Thomas Johnson ’92 at tlj0689@gmail.com. The Flat Hat welcomes letters to the editor. Contact fhopinions@gmail.com with submissions.