Members of the UC Berkeley community are planning to strike Thursday to demand campus end in-person instruction requirements.
Similar strikes were held on UCLA and UC Irvine’s campuses over the past week. According to a UC Berkeley Strike for our Safety representative, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, protestors are demanding an end to in-person attendance requirements as well as a hybrid learning option for all.
The representative alleged that campus’s COVID-19 guidelines are not doing an adequate job of keeping students and faculty safe.
“Across the country we’ve seen mass numbers of students and faculty affected by COVID in the recent weeks and these places often have stricter COVID rules than UCB does,” the representative said in an email.
Campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore noted that classroom spaces do not pose a serious risk to individuals.
“Most COVID-19 contagion occurs in social settings, especially those where individuals have removed face coverings to eat or drink,” Gilmore said in an email. “If you have your booster, your risk of serious illness is very low.”
According to Gilmore, campus policies follow “the science,” along with public health guidance.
The Strike for our Safety representative believes the current measures are not enough to ensure the safety of immunocompromised students, students with dependents and individuals with high-risk family members, among others.
“Some may argue that hybrid teaching is an inconvenience,” the representative said in their email. “We say that contracting COVID, possibly getting long-term effects, and even dying is far worse than the inconvenience of hybrid learning.”
The organizers of the strike at UC Irvine issued a press release Monday citing similar safety reasons for organizing.
The press release calls the decision to mandate in-person instruction “material and violent,” saying the decision comes at the expense of the safety of “disabled, immunocompromised, and BIPOC community members.”
Among their other demands, UC Berkeley strike organizers are calling on campus to reinstate removed daily testing hours at the campus Recreational Sports Facility and weekly mandated testing.
Strike organizers argued students should not have to make a choice between their health and their education.
“We are not asking for anything ridiculous, rather we are asking for the bare-minimum for our safety,” the representative said in their email.
According to the representative, they have gained the support of several ASUC senators, student organizations, concerned community members and students with a disability.
The representative also encouraged students to get involved and speak up for their needs.
“Advocate for yourself and your health,” the representative said in their email. “Your anxiety, fears, and feelings about being forced to return in person are absolutely valid.”