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Faculty Group Teaching Outside To Protest Penn State’s COVID-19 Policies

A group of faculty members is teaching outdoors this week to increase advocacy efforts for stronger COVID-19-related policies at Penn State.

Through the event, titled “TEACH OUT(SIDE),” more than 50 professors are bringing their classes outdoors from Monday, October 4, to Thursday, October 7. Sponsoring the demonstration is the Coalition for a Just University, which said Penn State’s current COVID-19 policies aren’t enough to keep students, faculty, and staff safe.

“With rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across campus, the university’s irresponsible decisions have already put our communities across the Commonwealth at risk,” the group said in a statement. “We are at risk if we go about business as usual.”

Most participating faculty members reside at University Park. Still, some at Commonwealth Campuses, including Penn State Brandywine cognitive science professor Evan Bradley, are taking part, too.

The CJU’s protest also calls for implementing recommendations put together by its team, which were detailed in a report published last month. In a gist, they included a university-wide COVID-19 vaccine mandate, increased and required testing, and proof of vaccination requirements for venues like Beaver Stadium.

To date, Penn State has shied away from full-on COVID-19 vaccine requirements, opting to only incentivize and encourage them. Full FDA approval of Pfizer’s vaccine won’t change that.

Only students and employees who haven’t submitted proof of vaccination are required to complete weekly COVID-19 testing this semester. Penn State has already suspended a handful of students who failed to comply with testing requirements.

According to Penn State’s COVID-19 Dashboard, 87.6% of students and 81% of employees at University Park are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Both figures sit well above Centre County’s 55.7% vaccination rate among adults.

This week’s outdoor classes are far from the CJU’s first protest this fall. The group encouraged faculty to teach online throughout the first week of the semester and organized a few rallies outside Old Main to encourage vaccine mandates.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State with distinction in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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