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Graduate employees stage 'die in' to protest Penn State reopening

A group of graduate employees at Pennsylvania State University held a "die-in" to protest the university's plan to reopen the campus in the fall.
Collin Jones The Post Millennial

A group of graduate employees at Pennsylvania State University held  a "die-in" to protest the university's plan to reopen the campus in the fall, according to The College Fix.

The event took place on July 20 where a number of the Coalition of Graduate Employees at Penn State physically laid down on Old Main Lawn for a total of 13 minutes to signify "the over 130,000 coronavirus deaths that ha[ve] occurred nationwide," according to the Daily Collegian.

The die-in organizer, Maggie Hernandez, stated that Penn State officials "have not considered the full ramifications" of its COVID-19 reopening plan," adding that it could "ultimately result in the death of individuals in the Centre County region."

These are not the first protests State College, where Penn State's main campus is located, have seen in recent months. In May, large scale protests were held in the wake of George Floyd's death.

The die-in was live streamed on Facebook. The protestors chant "We came to learn, not to die, they'll keep us safe, that's a lie," among other missives. The protest appears to have made use of social distancing norms.

If you can't attend today's event in person, we have you covered with our live stream! Don't forget to also send an email to President Barron and other administrators expressing your concern about their Back to State plan at the following link: https://cgepsu.org/petition-to-president-barron-we-demand-safe-and-accessible-education/ We ARE #StrongerTogether so let's make our voices heard!

Posted by Coalition of Graduate Employees at Penn State on Monday, July 20, 2020

Hernandez took to Twitter, saying: "The university is spending 'millions of dollars' and alllllll of this testing, contact tracing, marketing campaign, etc., when they could be using that money to keep classes online AND workers paid at the university, while investing into the local SC economy."

Hernandez, identified as a scientist, claims that students would be better off online, and that the money the university is spending in service to their education should be better spent elsewhere.

Additionally, the coalition drummed up a list of demands from leaders at Penn State, including that all classes be moved online while ensuring everyone has access to a computer that makes remote learning possible.

"Invest in resources to ensure the students who are taking classes online have the resources and support they need to succeed," Hernandez said.

Hernandez continued by saying that the university needs to release "numerical thresholds" as an indicator of how many coronavirus cases would warrant shutting down the campus. She said that this number would reveal "how many people [university administrators] are willing to let die and let get infected," according to the Daily Collegian.

She continued by saying that university needs to make their decision regarding the possibility for online classes sooner rather than later, pointing to the idea that the institution is "robbing [graduate students] of the time" required to plan and prepare for accommodations required for remote learning.

"We have our students in mind when we're thinking about all of this, "Hernandez said, concluding that "the pressure will not stop."

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