EDITORIAL: Sac State students are asking for transparency and safety, not a vacation

We don’t want to ‘just get out of school’


On Tuesday evening, Sacramento State President Robert Nelsen’s liked the following since-deleted tweet from Sacramento Bee reporter Joe Davidson.

Story continues below tweets.

Dear Sac State administration and, apparently, Joe Davidson:

Students are not asking for classes to be canceled out of laziness or “to just get out of school,” as the text of the tweet reads.

Just for clarification’s sake, students are not asking for classes to be canceled period. Students are asking for classes to be taught virtually in order to prevent the virus from spreading further — you know, as it tends to do when people gather in groups in closed rooms for up to three hours at a time.

Story continues below tweet.

We are fearing for our own lives, for the lives of those close to us, for our abilities to work and support ourselves, and for the safety of our fellow students with compromised immune systems. We already pay through the teeth to get education here, now our safety is part of the cost too?

Understandably, Sac State students — including former State Hornet editor Kameron Schmid — reacted in dismay to the fact that our own university president liked Davidson’s tweet. Nelsen has since unliked the tweet and Davidson deleted the tweet Wednesday evening.

Story continues below tweets.

Since Monday, Nelsen has announced via a series of SacSend emails new precautions on campus due to coronavirus. These precautions have escalated from official travel being suspended to non-academic meetings and events being canceled to professors being told they can choose to start moving their classes online. 

RELATED: Sac State professors to choose whether to shift to online classes amid coronavirus concerns

So, you acknowledge that there’s enough of a problem to cancel travel and events, but it’s not serious enough for you to put classes online? 

The rapidly changing situation has left students concerned about whether in-person instruction will be or should be canceled and how that could affect students.

A change.org petition started on Monday with the title “Coronavirus: Sac State, decrease face-to-face interaction, switch to online classes” now has over 5,000 signatures.

How will students fare in online-only classes? What about students that lack consistent access to fast internet, or a computer, or a quiet room? What about students that work on campus to pay bills?

The piecemeal response from the university has gone from frustrating to confusing to downright disrespectful of the staff and student body. 

A dynamic situation such as this one demands a dynamic response from the administration, not static emails written in long chunks that pose more questions than they answer. “Non-academic events and meetings” are canceled — what does that even mean? 

RELATED: Sac State cancels all in-person meetings, events amid coronavirus concerns

We need answers. We need concrete action plans. At a bare minimum, we need acknowledgment from the university that they don’t have the answer and are working to find solutions. 

There’s no doubt that the university has some reasoning behind not closing the campus or putting classes online — it’s not like they’re just twirling their cartoon villain mustaches and purposefully trying to get us all sick.

But why can’t they just, you know, tell us the reasoning? Through a medium faster than the Pony Express?

Perhaps Nelsen should spend less time browsing social media and crafting long, confusing emails, and more time facing the students and the media to try to answer the many questions students have about their health and immediate future.