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Georgia College campus workers stage 'die-in' protest against COVID-19 response

Members of the United Campus Workers of Georgia say they hope campus administration at Georgia College listens to them and that change is made.

Georgia College in Milledgeville now has more than 500 COVID-19 cases on campus. That's about 1 out of every 14 students.

Friday morning, the United Campus Workers of Georgia held a protest on campus to criticize how the state has handled the pandemic.

40 students and faculty laid down next to tombstones on Georgia College's lawn as if they were dead.

They were 6 feet apart and holding signs to voice their concerns about COVID-19 on campus.

Denechia Powell, graduate student at the University and member of United Campus Workers of Georgia, says this die-in protest was necessary. 

"It's symbolic of where Georgia College and the University System of Georgia is headed if they don't do more to protect us against COVID-19," Powell said.

Powell says 700 people signed a petition asking Georgia College to give all students and staff on online option for learning and teaching so they can feel safe.

She says administration never gave a direct response.

"We know that COVID-19 is a potentially fatal disease and so we don't want the USG to have blood on their hands or Georgia College to have blood on their hands but that's where we're headed if they do not provide better protections for us." she said.

Valerie Aranda, professor of art at Georgia College, says it's important for faculty and students voices to be heard.

"I think the university definitely could have done a better job of listening to the campus community. I hope that the university, the University System of Georgia listens to our concerns and  makes immediate changes for the betterment of everyone's health and safety," Aranda said.

Aranda also says Georgia College should allow remote learning for all students and professors, increase testing, provide quarantine housing for COVID-19 positive student and give the university's essential workers hazardous pay.

"Really, all we want to do is have a conversation, and we haven't been able to be a part of the conversation yet," Powell said.

Powell also says students and staff members are the ones who make up the community, so it's only fair that their safety is protected.

Members of the United Campus Workers of Georgia say they hope campus administration at Georgia College listens to them and that change is made.

Georgia College sent 13WMAZ a statement, it reads: "Georgia College fully supports the freedoms of speech and expression for our faculty, staff and students. We continue to remind our students that COVID-19 can spread rapidly at off-campus social gatherings, where social distancing and other mitigation measures are not maintained. President Dorman also announced Monday that the Student Code of Conduct could be enforced for those students directly linked to off-campus parties and gatherings."

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