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More Than 500 ASU Faculty, Staff Want President Crow To Reconsider In-Person Classes

More than 500 Arizona State University staff, graduate student workers and faculty signed an open letter to the university President Michael Crow, urging him to reconsider in-person instruction that’s supposed to begin later this month. 

The letter directed to the administration is asking that in-person instruction be postponed until the letter’s transparency and safety demands are met.

Those who signed believe that ASU’s current safety measures won’t be adequate enough against COVID-19. They also point out that the faculty and staff have been cut out of the decision-making process.

Sujey Vega is a professor of gender and women’s studies at ASU and one the signees, said university leaders are making decisions that are unreasonable for some faculty.

"The university is worried about, certainly, the future of the campus, worried about tuition and being able to supply and create a good experience for the students," Vega said. "But I don’t think they realize what it takes to be able to do this work on the ground."

Currently, the upcoming semester class sizes will be reduced by using an online and in-person hybrid model. But hundreds of faculty and staff are still concerned about safety.

The Show spoke with Michael McQuarrie, an associate professor of justice studies in the School of Social Transformation at ASU, about what caused him to sign onto the letter and what he's hoping to achieve through doing so.

The Show also reached out to ASU for a comment. In a statement, a university spokesperson said:

"President Crow and Provost Searle will continue this week to address the concerns articulated in the letter through a variety of communications and discussions with the entire ASU community of 100,000 employees and students. There are many very legitimate ideas, questions, requests and concerns that have been expressed by this very committed community of people. ASU will continue to provide a university-wide framework for managing and mitigating the spread of COVID-19, which to the maximum extent possible empowers individual members of the ASU community to live, work, teach, research, and serve the people of Arizona in whatever ways best address the needs of each individual member of the ASU community."

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Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.