ALLENDALE, Mich. — A petition supposedly created by Grand Valley State University students is circulating online demanding an immediate transition to online classes.
The petition has more than 2,000 signatures as of Friday.
“I’ve definitely been nervous about going to classes,” said Madeline Strong, a GVSU junior who signed the petition. “I just don’t leave the apartment much anymore.”
The petition criticizes the GVSU’s COVID-19 response, describing the school’s recent decisions as “nothing less than negligence.”
In addition to online classes, the petition requests a full refund of housing and meals plans, the ability for students to drop classes with a minimum 50 percent refund, adequate access to housing, food, technology, healthcare, and mental health support, as well as proper pay for faculty. It also demands future reopening to be approved by GVSU Student Senate and University Academic Senate.
This week the Ottawa County Health Department issued a two week, stay-in-place order.
Students will be allowed to attend in-person classes, get food, receive medical attention, attend religious events, participate in athletics practices, and go to work.
According to the department, there have been over 600 cases of COVID-19 in the student population living on or near the GVSU campus in Allendale.
The department adds the zip code housing GVSU, which compromises 8.5% of Ottawa County’s total population, saw a 970$ disproportionate increase in cases. At the end of the first week of August, seven percent of Ottawa County cases were in 49401. By the end of the first week of September, the zip code contained 75 percent of county coronavirus cases.
OCHD said the majority of cases appear to be driven by congregate living and gatherings.
“It’s not actually a quarantine, we're still required to attend all of our classes, so I don't understand how this is going to be as effective,” said Strong.
Strong is upset the order threatens violators with expulsion. She says it unfairly targets students who have been staying safe.
“I understand that they're doing their best to make sure that things are cleaned and that it's safe for us, but if we're at the point where there are 600 plus cases, and they're willing to impose these restrictions on Grand Valley students, I don't think that that's fair,” said Strong.
Strong and others feel as if GVSU cares more about money.
“They still want people paying for their parking passes and they don't want people moving out of their dorms,” said Strong. “It makes me feel taken advantage of”
In a statement, GVSU said, “We share the concern members of our community have around health and safety and the goal to stop the spread of the virus. It’s important to note that students had a choice to register for online, in-person or hybrid classes. We stand ready to work with any student if circumstances now dictate a change to all remote course work.”