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Classes set to continue Monday, majority of ASWU expresses disagreement with decision

Emma Innes

Staff writer

A screenshot of ASWU President Claire Mathews-Lingen's email to the student body.

Many students have been left without power due to the [ice storm] over the weekend, which downed branches on campus and around Salem. Associated Students of Willamette University (ASWU) President Claire Mathews-Lingen (‘21) sent out an email to all College of Arts and Science students the evening of Feb. 14 criticizing the decision of the Reopening Committee (ROC) to continue classes as scheduled: “The decision to continue to hold in-person classes tomorrow demonstrates a lack of care for both students and faculty as we deal with a crisis. I believe the decision to hold classes as normal tomorrow is the wrong decision. We are not all experiencing this crisis equally.” Mathews-Lingen noted that many students are still without power and that Salem has advised residents to not drive, and called it unacceptable to expect off-campus students to commute during these conditions. She urged for classes to be canceled tomorrow, Monday, Feb. 15, and Tuesday, Feb. 16 as well.

Students were notified of the ROC’s decision to continue with classes in an email on behalf of the ROC from Vice President of Student Affairs Lisa Landreman at 3:03 p.m. on Feb. 14. The ROC said: “Classes will go on as scheduled unless you are otherwise notified. If you are unsure whether it is prudent to travel to campus, you should use your personal judgment and make the right decision for yourself regarding coming to work or attending classes.” The email also contained updates on Willaemtte’s policies surrounding the ice storm, saying that the ROC recognizes that many are still without power or Wi-Fi, but due to COVID-19, Willamette could not help and house students unless they are injured, live in a damaged home or have medical circumstances that endanger them. While housing cannot be provided, the Putnam University Center and academic buildings are open for studying.

The decision to continue classes comes despite the fact that Salem has [declared] a state of emergency due to the power outages and dangerous driving conditions with residents [advised] to not to leave their homes. Oregon Governor Kate Brown [declared] a separate state of emergency that includes Marion County due to the weather.

This decision to not cancel classes is similar to last semester when the ROC decided to continue classes [online] despite hazardous air from wildfire smoke. This move was also [criticized] by ASWU, as there were concerns surrounding health issues and stress from the smoke.

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