UNC-CH professors concerned about plan to bring 3,500 students to campus

North Carolina

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – Spring semester is still more than a month away but a number of professors at UNC-Chapel Hill are raising concerns about the university’s plans to bring more students back to campus.

During the fall semester, only 1,500 students were allowed to live on campus at UNC-Chapel Hill, but that number is set to jump to 3,500 in the spring.

“To triple the expected number of students on campus seems foolish at best,” said Professor Michael Palm.

“What if you bring all of these students in, and suddenly there are an increase of cases god forbid,” said Professor Deb Aikat.

While they believe the classroom is the best place to learn, Palm and Aikat say that is simply not possible on a campus largely closed by COVID-19.

“The thought of bringing students back to campus to have an online experience seems cynical at best,” said Palm.

“By having in-person classes, we’re putting out faculty, students, and staff at risk,” said Aikat.

In a Nov. 23 letter to students and staff, UNC Chancellor Kevin Guzkiewicz said in part, “We will monitor the cases and hospitalizations nationally, in our state, and locally, as we approach the semester and be ready to alter our plans and make necessary accommodations if needed.”

Aikat said he’s to sure if the university is prepared for the worst of what could come.

“Do you feel like the administration is taking the safety of the students and staff seriously?” asked CBS 17 reporter Holden Kurwicki.

“There’s widespread and deep concern among the faculty and students in my orbit at UNC as to how these decisions are being made, and the accountability for the fallout from the decisions of the fall,” said Palm.

“Like most universities across the nation, we have learned from the fall semester. With input from faculty, staff, students, members of the local community, and officials from the Orange County Health Department, we have planned for a significantly different on-campus Carolina experience in the spring, including mandatory testing,” said Joel Curran, vice chancellor of University Communications.  “We are closely monitoring state and national case counts, and we are prepared to adjust our plans at any time and will announce changes no later than January 9 – prior to the return of our on-campus residents, if the conditions necessitate it.”

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