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OU students demand changes to COVID-19 protocol, protest in-person reopening

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Protesters in front of Evans Hall during the OUr Safety Protest on Sept. 3.

A group of OU students gathered in front of Evans Hall Thursday to voice their concerns on how the university is handling reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The OUr Safety protest lasted for roughly 45 minutes and involved several students speaking in front of an audience of media members, saying the administration should value lives over profit.

“We want a safer university,” said Jake Allen, a junior who helped organize the event, in an interview. “We want the administration to actually be taking responsibility and making choices that are focused on our health and not making money for the university.”

Allen said the students will continue to push the university until their demands are met. Their demands include transitioning to mostly online classes, twice-weekly testing for everyone on campus, protections for international students and for the university to hold organizations accountable for breaking COVID-19 precautions.

This was the third protest of its kind. The “die-in” at the end of the summer and the Save Our Staff protest both called for similar demands. 

“They are going to notice a push for similar demands, continuing with what the workers were asking for,” Allen said. “Seeing that we are out here as students, I think they will do something, but if it doesn’t then we will keep pushing for it.”

Katheryn Powers, a sophomore who also helped organize the event, said in an interview that she hopes other groups will also begin to hold protests similar to this one.

“I definitely hope that more organizations will do this,” Powers said. “I think a lot of the people within our organizing group and just within our information group chat come from a lot of different backgrounds, to where I wouldn’t be surprised (if more got involved).”

Powers ended with a statement directed to the university administration and the OU community, urging those on OU’s campus to adhere to COVID-19 precautions.

“I know OU can do better, and we need to do better,” Powers said. “People’s lives, their livelihoods, their financial statuses and whether or not they have a home is at risk.”

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