KUTZTOWN, Pa. — Some students and staff who gathered at Kutztown University on Tuesday said they were protesting the way the university is handling their concerns about COVID-19.
"I remember crying to my family," recalled Isabelle Perkins, a Kutztown University student. "I was worried, as a senior, that I would have to drop out."
Perkins said she is considered high risk. Last year, she did all her Kutztown classes virtually per doctor recommendation; this year, that isn't an option.
"We keep trying to talk to the university, and they will not really work with us," said Perkins.
Steve Oross, a heart transplant patient and an associate professor of psychology at Kutztown, said he was also denied the option of teaching in a virtual format.
"I wasn't asking for students to not come to a classroom," he said. "I wasn't asking to change any of the learning objectives, just I wouldn't be in person."
One of the major issues protesters brought up is that some students, staff and faculty feel that the university is not making reasonable accommodations, even though they believe they have the capability to do so.
"We have the technology to do this," Oross said. "We've done it. I've done it. The whole campus, the whole country did it."
Kutztown University responded with the following statement:
"While KU is committed to providing its students an in-person experience this fall with health and wellness protocols in place for the entire campus, we understand there have been situations in which members of the campus community prefer virtual options. We are offering 20 percent of our courses online this semester, a significant increase from our traditional course offerings, which has helped accommodate some situations. We have asked students with further concerns about in-person classes to work with their academic advisors and department chairs to attempt to accommodate their needs (including taking needed classes virtually at other institutions and transferring them back to KU; independent studies, etc.). While we hope these efforts and strategies culminate in graduation from KU, we will continue to support all students in their pursuit of a college degree, whether through in-person, virtual or other means."
"At times, I think this is surreal," said Oross. "At times, I'm honestly thinking, is this really happening? It's baffling to me."