MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – Four West Virginia University students marched from the Mountainlair on the downtown Morgantown campus to University President Gordon Gee’s home on Friday evening to protest the university’s COVID-19 restrictions.
The protest was organized by a student-run startup called Startup For Success and they say that many of the new rules during the COVID-19 pandemic are “unjust”. Connor Kraus, a WVU junior and member of Startup For Success, said he and others just wanted to voice their contempt over things they think aren’t right.
“They are not giving us free breakfasts anymore on weekends, 24-hour library access, the Personal Rapid Transit, they stopped running that for this semester,” Kraus said. “We hope that the PRT can remain open in the next couple of weeks, we would like about four or three to five people per car, as well as just letting students back in the stadium. They are letting other spectators in the stadium but not students, we believe that at least 10,000 students should be allowed in the stadium. There’s 60,000 people in Milan Puskar Stadium, so 10,000 would be the perfect amount, people will be able to social distance and we can still have team pride and sportsmanship.”
In addition to their demands to the university, protesters said they want the City of Morgantown to lift COVID-19 restrictions, which are stifling local businesses. One of the missions of Startup For Success, Kraus said, is to boost to the local economy and they can’t do that with the current limitations.
Kraus and others said they believe that by lobbying Gee they can get him to exert some pressure on the city. The junior said he has emailed the president’s office and has received a response, he plans on finding a way to speak to him directly because all he wants to do is start a dialogue and a collaboration with him.
“Because West Virginia University is one of the best universities in the world and we certainly believe that things can change and we don’t want to rush into things, we don’t want to pause the spread or anything,” Kraus said. “But at the same time most students have been socially distancing for the last 2-3 weeks, we shouldn’t have that big of concern anymore. Everyone should be wearing masks, washing their hands, social distance at the best of their abilities, but still, connect and network with other student body and staff.”