UW-Madison student government demands return to virtual instruction

MADISON, Wis.– Student government at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are standing behind other campus groups in asking the administration to rethink opening campus during a pandemic.

The Associated Students of Madison published a letter asking for a “moral restart,” which includes moving all classes online, lowering residence hall capacity and requiring a negative COVID-19 test before attending social gatherings.

“I think I speak for all students when I say ideally, we would have in-person classes, but ideally, we wouldn’t be in the middle of a national pandemic,” ASM Shared Governance Chair Katie McGlasson said.

McGlasson said the university needs to take responsibility for the risks of having in-person classes and correct any punishment to be equitable.

“There wasn’t student input on that, and at the same time, the university has created a policy where all of the responsibility, and in turn all of the blame is on students,” McGlasson said.

A UW-Madison spokesperson said they have worked with ASM on pandemic planning and will continue to do so in the future.

While the board recognizes that some students are participating in social gatherings separate from their curriculum, ASM Chair Matthew Mitnick said he feels there’s a risk of catching COVID-19 while attending class.

“I can’t tell you how many people I see just walking to class without masks, not following guidelines,” Mitnick said. “It terrifies me that I can bring it home to my roommates.”

The board said the university owes it to the rest of the city to do its best in preventing the spread of the virus.

“It comes back to what is going to be safe for students and what is going to be safe for the community we live in and have a large impact in,” McGlasson said.

A UW-Madison spokesperson said the school and administration is closely monitoring the situation and will taken action as data from testing proves necessary.

“If our testing and monitoring data indicate a rising level of infection that creates a public health threat, we will take steps to close all or parts of campus, returning to virtual instruction as needed,” spokesperson Meredith McGlone said.

The full letter from ASM can be read here.