DASB senators concerned about district dismissal of petition4 min read

Student+petition+calls+for+De+Anza+to+close+and+move+online.

Student petition calls for De Anza to close and move online.

A new student-led petition is available to sign with corrected language intended to close De Anza campus amid increasing COVID-19 concerns. 

Paige Wallace, DASB senate student rights and services chair created the new petition in response to concerns that the previous petition, now with over 1,900 signers, would be discounted due to the language used, citing comments by instructors on Facebook.

Of the signers were De Anza Student Body Senate President Shelly Michael, Vice President Maya Burns, and Student Trustee Genevieve Kolar. Currently, over 1,000 people have signed the petition.

“It was being delegitimized because of the language, which is unacceptable,” Wallace said. 

According to DASB senators, students are hesitant to voice their concerns about their safety.

“Me personally, even as DASB, Chair of Finance, I am scared to tell my professors,” said Halina Liang. “Even though I attend every single class, I’m still scared to tell them about the petition that we started.”

According to someone present at the Instructional Planning and Budget Team meeting, Cheryl Balm, a faculty member of the IPBT, made a dismissive comment about students’ desire to close the campus, asking if they wanted to close it forever.

Wallace said some students may feel intimidated by faculty.

“There is a real power dynamic there between student and teacher,” she said.

No formal emails from administration regarding updates on COVID-19 have been sent to the student body since March 6, recommending that students maintain proper hygiene.

Since then, 45 cases have been confirmed in the county, including one death, according to Santa Clara County Public Health.

Though most students at De Anza are young and healthy, they could act as carriers of the virus to elderly or immuno-compromised people, such as family members.

“There is a lack of communication between students and administration, there is no feedback to the students,” said Juan Manuel Marquez, DASB chair of legislative affairs.

Chancellor Judy Miner met with a representative of the Santa Clara Public Health Department on March 11 to discuss instructions for academic institutions.

Miner said the department is making no specific instruction other than to “keep students safe.”

According to an email sent to staff by Dorene Novotny Vice Chancellor, Human Resources and Equal Opportunity, on March 10, if a case of COVID-19 were to be confirmed within the Foothill-De Anza district, the district would consult the Santa Clara County health department on how to proceed.   

“Protocols could include additional sanitizing of certain areas, temporary closing of a room or facility, moving classes or support functions online, or temporary closure of a program, part of a campus, or one of the colleges,” said the email.

In the same email, staff is being informed of the limitations that they have in requesting leave or time-off in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“In the event your work area is open and no disruption or closure is in effect, and if you are uncomfortable performing your work under the circumstances or you are concerned with risk to your health or safety due to having higher risk factors, you may request vacation or leave without pay,” it said.

On March 10, community colleges around De Anza have closed, like the entire district of West Valley-Mission College, which has switched to online classes until April 5.

San Jose City College and Evergreen College have suspended all in-person classes on March 11. The campus remains open and non-instructional resources such as the library and tutoring services.

“It seems to me that the administration, at least what I’ve seen from IBPT, they’re hesitant to listen to students’ concerns because when we mentioned possibly moving classes to online, they listed a bunch of reasons why that would be difficult,” said Liang.

DASB senators said they want to advocate for the students and address their safety concerns.

“You cannot concentrate on your education if you are worrying about getting the virus,” said Marquez.

Update:

The petition has now over 2,200 signatures.

The World Health Organization has officially declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. 

The following text is added to the article:

Chancellor Judy Miner met with a representative of the Santa Clara Public Health Department on March 11 to discuss instructions for academic institutions.

Miner said the department is making no specific instruction other than to “keep students safe.

San Jose City College and Evergreen College have suspended all in-person classes on March 11. The campus remains open and non-instructional resources such as the library and tutoring services.

Changes made on 10:35 A.M March 11. 

 

 

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