Demand a Student and Worker COVID response from UVA

Jim Ryan and the Board of Visitors

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UPDATE: As of 8/20 we are calling for no in-person classes and the option for students to opt-out of housing on grounds, allowing for the most vulnerable of students to remain in housing. Read our full statement here. All other demands remain the same  https://twitter.com/UVA_YDS/status/1296595572401602564

If one thing is clear, the world will never be the same after the COVID-19 Pandemic. We, the Young Democratic Socialists of America at UVA, write to notify Jim Ryan, the Board of Visitors, and the University administration that we will not allow our University to ignore the needs of its students and workers during these uncertain and distressing times. Austerity should not even be considered, being that UVA has one of the largest endowments in the country. Financial crises caused by the capitalist class, cannot be used as an excuse to defund our programs dedicated to race and racism, or ignore the expansion of resources for undocumented students, Black students, and other POC students.  In fact, the University should use its amassed wealth to improve conditions in the succeeding Fall and Spring terms.

YDSA at UVA submits in this letter a list of 11 demands for reform. We make these demands after having surveyed students from different schools at the University. The questionnaire we distributed included a range of topics, gauging students’ concerns about housing and food security, next semester’s grading scale, and program cutbacks. After hearing from students, we determined the University must prioritize students' health and wellbeing, ensure students have all the tools they need for a safe and successful semester, and finally support campus workers, as well as the broader Charlottesville community.  

Too often universities offer empty platitudes, and statements of support. They give us committees, and not action. The historical demands of Black students at UVa are papered over through statements, when what students truly desire is concrete changes.

Demands such as the CARES act money, tuition freezes, and expanded CAPS have to be accessible to all students, including undocumented students. This means the university needs to actively and aggressively advertise and support students in acquiring these resources.

Our demands are intended to meet the moment, combat austerity, and present a positive vision for the coming year.  We believe in UVa being a school for the working-class, and will fight for it.

Solidarity,

Young Democratic Socialists of America at UVa

Our Demands our the following

School
  • A tuition freeze through the 2022-2023 academic year and the reversal of tuition increases for the 2020-2021 academic year.

  • Adopt an opt-in C/NC grading system with students having the ability to select C/NC or letter grade after seeing their final grade.

  • Slate all of the CARES Act $11.7 million for distribution to and provision of aid for students facing unexpected hardship to help with rent, food, and internet access.

  • Guarantee that all services offered through SDAC that are available on Grounds are still accessible to students off-Grounds. Expand the financial accessibility of diagnostic testing offered through SDAC.

Safety

  • Regular COVID-19 testing available for free for Students, Workers, and all community members of Charlottesville. Free healthcare for all COVID-19 related sickness for Students, Workers, and Community members. Distribution of Personal Protective Equipment to all University students and workers for free.
  • Vastly expand online and in-person mental health services provided through CAPS.

  • Expansion of Custodial Services workers hired under Facilities and Management and hazard pay for all facilities management workers, including any student and part-time workers.

  • No additional use of police or digital surveillance of students to enforce social distancing.


Solidarity

  • A firing freeze through the 2022-2023 academic year: no workers will be fired as part of budget cuts for 2 years. A reversal of the current hiring freeze.

  • Hazard pay for all workers including FWS, student employees, direct employees, contracted, and part-time workers.

  • Continue to pay students employed through Federal Work Study programs, even if they are unable to return to Grounds for health reasons/travel restrictions or if their jobs no longer exist due to COVID-19.



Petition by
YDSA  at UVA
Charlottesville, Virginia

To: Jim Ryan and the Board of Visitors
From: [Your Name]

We present this vision of a semester that places students and workers first. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the entrenched racial and economic inequalities at UVa. An in-person semester poses financial and health risks for everyone. Our demands are:

1. Free & regular testing, free & adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and free COVID-related healthcare for all students, workers, and community members.

2. Vast expansion of online & in-person mental health services provided through CAPS.

3. Expansion of Custodial Services workers hired under Facilities and Management and hazard pay for all facilities management workers, including any student and part-time workers.

4. No additional use of police or digital surveillance of students to enforce social distancing.

5. A tuition freeze through the 2022-2023 academic year and the reversal of tuition increases for the 2020-2021 academic year.

6. Slate the remainder of the CARES Act $11.7 million for distribution to and provision of aid for students facing unexpected hardship to help with rent, food, and internet access.

7. Adopt an opt-in C/NC grading system with students having the ability to select C/NC or letter grade after seeing their final grade.

8. Guarantee that all services offered through SDAC that are available on Grounds are still accessible to students off- Grounds. Expand the financial accessibility of diagnostic testing offered through SDAC

9. Continue to pay students employed through Federal Work Study programs, even if they are unable to return to Grounds for health reasons/travel restrictions or if their jobs no longer exist due to COVID-19.

10.A firing freeze through the 2022-2023 academic year: no workers will be fired as part of budget cuts for 2 years. A reversal of the current hiring freeze.

11.Hazard pay for all workers including non-FWS, direct employees, contracted, and part-time workers.

Signed,
Young Democratic Socialists of America at UVA