GEO at UIUC puts 1,667 small flags on the quad requesting for the University to create a contingency plan

By Amanda Brennan

The Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) at UIUC put 1,667 small orange flags on the quad Thursday afternoon to represent the 1,667 students on campus who have, or have had coronavirus between move-in day and Wednesday, Sept. 9. 

It is their call to action for the University to create a contingency plan to protect the lives of students and workers. 

Owen MacDonald, a general member of U of I’s GEO chapter said, “We feel that the administration is really pushing one narrative of what’s going on with the campus reopening and the COVID situation. They’re not being very clear with us about the data, or what the risks to everybody are.” 

The GEO is asking for more transparency from the administration on what it will take to shut down campus. “We would like to know the metrics they are using to determine if and when classes go online, what the transition would look like for TAs and what their job duties would be in the result of transitioning to fully online learning,” MacDonald said. 

Teaching Assistants (TAs), Graduate Assistants (GAs) and fellowship students make up the 4,059 members in the GEO at UIUC. 

At the University of Michigan, its GEO has been on strike since Tuesday, Sept. 8,  calling for greater COVID-19 protection, additional support for international students and for the University to cut 50% from the Division of Public Safety and Security’s annual budget. The GEO at UIUC supports those striking at the University of Michigan and its Solidarity Committee donated $100 to Michigan’s strike fund.

When asked if the GEO at UIUC plans to strike, MacDonald said they have no concrete plans to yet.  

The Campus Labor Coalition, which includes the GEO as well as other labor unions, will be hosting a reverse town hall on Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 2:30 p.m. on Zoom. They are inviting the administration to the meeting to get direct answers instead of waiting for a campus Massmail. 

After spiking on Aug. 30, The University of Illinois’ positivity rate is now decreasing, with the latest 7-day average sitting at 0.9%. For more information regarding test results and positivity rates, visit this website. 

1,667 flags in the center of the quad to represent the number of students who have or had COVID-19 since move-in and Sept. 9.

Photo by Amanda Brennan

Amanda Brennan

Digital Reporter for Good Morning Illini and UI7 News. Amanda also serves as the President for the University of Illinois chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and is a photographer with the Illini Union Marketing Department. You can find Amanda in the Marching Illini Color Guard during the football season. Go Illini!