GT Students Refuse to Attend In-Person Classes to Protect Public Health

Ángel Cabrera, Georgia Institute of Technology, and GT Student Government Association

Over the last several weeks, we have seen a second wave of COVID-19 ravage our city. Georgia Tech must hold the safety of our community as its ultimate priority. It is not safe to return to campus. Leaked emails from faculty and staff have shown explicitly that students will not be penalized for choosing to not attend in person instruction, and that it is simply a bluff when GT implies students need excuses. GT has insisted that individual students are responsible for their own health in this crisis. Given this approach, the course of action is obvious: we will collectively refuse to attend any in-person classes on GT campus until the Coronavirus pandemic has subsided and it is actually safe to return to campus.

The only way to guarantee student safety is to minimize person-to-person contact as much as possible. Knowing this, it is simply unacceptable for GT to endanger the lives of its students by advocating for face-to-face instruction. The Board of Regents, and by extension GT, are pretending nothing is wrong for selfish reasons. Georgia Tech has a documented history of administrative corruption involving private contractors. Despite GT being a public institution, many key components of campus, from dining to transportation to construction, have been outsourced to private companies using campus needs for profit. While forcing in-person classes upholds the perceived value of GT's brand and guarantees income for its private contractors, it puts workers and students' lives in danger. We realize remote learning is not always the optimal mode of instruction for students, but safety must come first. We must put people before profits.

Georgia Tech has a $2 billion budget. They have the power and resources to provide online instruction, as demonstrated by the Spring and Summer 2020 semesters. Unfortunately, they have basically gone silent about remote instruction, so students have had to rely on leaked emails to learn about remote options instead. This media strategy is blatantly dishonest and dangerous. Georgia Tech must publicly clarify that in-person instruction is largely unnecessary, and that students should take remote classes when possible.

We understand there are situations where some students may want on-campus instruction. There have been concerns about international students needing on-campus instruction to secure visas. We hope GT allows students to attend on-campus instruction, but this must be an opt-in system, not opt-out.

With GT pretending that nothing is wrong, and the threat of retaliation looming over employees who would speak up, the burden falls on us students to take action. We must all refuse to attend unnecessary in-person classes. We will use this petition to call for a SGA referendum on whether students should refuse to attend in-person classes. We encourage SGA to voluntarily call a referendum on this question as soon as possible.


Young Democratic Socialists of America at Georgia Tech

Yellow Jacket Action Network

Georgia Tech Pride Alliance

French Club at Georgia Tech

Kyle Smith, SGA Undergraduate Vice President

AJ Joshi, Senior Class Undergraduate Representative

Radha Jagwani, CEE Undergraduate Representative

Nikhil Pailoor, ECE Graduate Senator

If your organization would like to co-sponsor the GT #CoronaStrike, please sign on here.

Sponsored by

To: Ángel Cabrera, Georgia Institute of Technology, and GT Student Government Association
From: [Your Name]

We, the undersigned:
* Collectively refuse to attend any in-person campus classes or instruction until the Coronavirus pandemic has subsided and it is safe to return to campus.
* Call on GT SGA to hold a referendum of the student body on the question of whether students should collectively refuse to attend in-person classes or instruction until the Coronavirus pandemic has subsided and it is safe to return to campus.
* Call on Georgia Tech and Ángel Cabrera to clarify, publicly and explicitly, that all students have a right to remote instruction without penalty
* Support GT SGA's petition "Demand that USG Give Every Student an Online Option"
* Refuse to indemnify the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University System of Georgia or its governance body, The Board of Regents, for harm suffered from unsafe campus conditions related to their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. We expect and rely on the USG and all USG institutions to take all reasonably prudent steps to protect the health and safety of those returning to campus during this pandemic.