Students take to Ticket Exchange to voice fear of coronavirus’ impact

Students+take+to+Ticket+Exchange+to+voice+fear+of+coronavirus%27+impact

Ben Stansell | @Ben_Stansell, Managing Editor

Concerns over COVID-19 among University of Alabama students reached a fever pitch on the Alabama Student Ticket Exchange Facebook Wednesday night.

Several Change.org petitions demanding that The University of Alabama take action against the disease circulated on the Facebook group, a community of over 76,000 members. One petition, started by an account named UA Community, asked the University to move classes online. The petition already received over 1,000 signatures within six hours of publication and was still receiving more at the time this article was published.

Another petition, created by Rylee DeLong, simply asked the University to take preventative measures. That petition already had over 300 signatures, as of 11 p.m. Wednesday night. 

However, perhaps more pandemonium took place in the comments section of DeLong’s post after one user expressed concerns over their instructor potentially being a carrier of the virus. They affirmed this with a photo of an email they received from Frances Ray, an MFA candidate and part-time instructor in the English department. 

“I’ve been identified now as a possible carrier of the Corona virus due to my close contact with two people who have traveled extensively to affected areas in Europe, as well as D.C. and N.Y,” the email read. “This means I’m supposed to stay off campus and that means class tomorrow will now be online.”

Although Ray won’t be holding class on Thursday, the instructor did say, “as far as I know, UA has no plans to move classes online for the rest of the semesters, but many universities elsewhere as well as many of my own professors here at UA have now taken that step.”

The comment section erupted after the screenshot of Ray’s email was posted, with users asking questions and expressing their concerns and even anger. Over 150 comments were posted in the aftermath of the screenshot.

Ray, however, said she did not mean to incite panic. She responded to The Crimson White’s request for a comment by saying she was simply taking extra precautions, as she had recently returned home to care for an ailing parent who had recently been traveling through Europe.

“Over the weekend I went home to visit my family, one of them was recently in an affected area of Europe, and several airports. They are showing no symptoms and neither am I. Out of an abundance of caution, I made it a point to cancel my classes,” she said in the email. “If you have the platform to deescalate whatever fears I may have introduced to the UA community, I encourage you to use it.”

Ray clarified in another email that the ailing parent is suffering from an illness that is non-communicable, non-infectious and not related to COVID-19.