University Relations responds to student open letter over COVID-19 concerns

Director of University Relations Gregory Hudgison released a statement following The Saber Senior Copy Editor Jessica DeMarco-Jacobson’s open letter requesting online learning to be allowed without penalty. The letter has achieved 198 signatures so far.


The rear exterior of the Synovus Center. Photo by Jessica DeMarco-Jacobson.

   Three days after Senior Copy Editor Jessica DeMarco-Jacobson released an open letter requesting online learning accommodations, Director of University Relations Gregory Hudgison released a statement responding to the letter. This comes after she requested commentary from President Markwood and the Provost. 


  “Since April, teams of Columbus State University students, faculty, staff and administrators have worked hard to adapt to the pandemic’s changing landscape,” the response read. “As the fall semester approached, many CSU students indicated a readiness to return to on-campus instruction, as demonstrated by a record demand on our residential facilities.” 


   This record demand has caused the university to provide temporary housing for students on a waitlist for the dorms, which will apparently be at a hotel near campus. 


   During a prior faculty meeting, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Chip Reese said that the university had not made any efforts to survey the student body about their readiness to return to campus. Dr. Reese also indicated that he did not see a reason to do so. 


   Additionally, a recently released document shows that Corvias, the private company that owns housing at 9 USG institutions —including CSU — threatened legal action if universities attempted to dissuade students from housing on campus due to COVID-19 safety concerns. 


   In 2015, USG entered into a 40-year housing agreement with Corvias. Corvias was previously involved in a 2019 scandal relating to poor living conditions in their military housing units.


   Hudgison’s response also addressed online learning. “Our mix of in-person, online, hybrid and extended classroom instruction will provide students options to study on campus or at home based on their personal comfort level and without penalty,” it read. 


   In past statements, the administration has encouraged faculty members to be “flexible” with their attendance policies, and this statement seems to further that sentiment. 


   The statement closed with a reminder that students and employees can “continue to share suggestions, express concerns and seek guidance on accommodations through our Return-to-Campus website.”