U of Utah Residence Advisers Threaten to Strike If They Don’t Receive More COVID-19 Support

Resident advisers (RAs) at the University of Utah say they will go on strike if the school doesn’t supply more sanitation supplies as well as information regarding whether a student in their dorm tests positive for COVID-19, reports The Salt Lake Tribune.

Their safety concerns intensified this past weekend after the RAs finished moving hundreds of residents onto campus. According to the UtahTribune, they were given little protective equipment other than cloth face masks, even as they worked in a center that tested all students for COVID-19 before moving them in.

Then, when the school reported 16 positive cases in the dorms at the end of Monday, some RAs said they didn’t hear of the news until reading about it in the Tribune. In response, they’re requesting daily reports on the positive tests for residents, with names kept private, including notices when someone in their dorm tests positive for the virus.

Additionally, concerned for their own physical and mental health, they are asking that testing be available for resident advisers on an ongoing basis, that they be provided hazard pay and that they be compensated for the extra workload they’re carrying under COVID-19 conditions.

They outlined these demands in a letter to Barb Remsburg, the executive director for housing at the university, and Lori McDonald, the vice president for student affairs. More than 100 students have signed it. They also created a separate public petition that has collected more than 600 signatures in less than two days.

They have given the administrators a deadline of 5 p.m. Thursday to respond before they begin to strike. The university has yet to provide a formal response but listened to their concerns in a virtual conference on Sunday and has since provided face shields and gloves.