GC professor resigns over USG COVID policies


Alexandra Spagnuolo | Staff Photographer

Jaylon Brooks

Dr. Meredith Styer, a rhetoric professor at GC, resigned after the first week of class. She cited issues with the USG’s policies for COVID-19 and GC’s enforcement of them as the reason.

USG created COVID-19 policies that all public universities in Georgia must follow. Universities in Georgia are not allowed to edit or add to these policies outside of USG’s jurisdiction.

Alexandra Spagnuolo | Staff Photographer

Dr. Styer stated that her family had many health problems this past year. They experienced several hospitalizations in the last couple of months.

Dr. Styer said she politely asked students to wear masks while in class to protect her elderly parents and grandmother. According to Dr. Styer, one of her students did not respond well to her request. When she asked again, he refused and stormed out of class. The student reported her to the dean and claimed she kicked him out of class for not wearing a mask.

When it became clear that GC’s administration was going to investigate both sides, Dr. Styer decided to resign.

Her leave followed the resignation of two professors at the University of North Georgia. They also had issues with USG’s COVID-19 policies.

The professors stated that they did not feel safe teaching face-to-face without mask or vaccine mandates.

Other GC professors are dissatisfied with the current policy for COVID-19.

“I think it’s rather unimpressive, doesn’t consider all of the factors or seem like a very comprehensive plan to keep students and faculty safe,” stated Avery James, co-chair of the GC chapter of the United Campus Workers of Georgia and teaching fellow in the English department.

“I don’t like the lack of a mask mandate,” said Rachel Epstein, an associate professor of mathematics. “We should be following the guidance of the CDC, who say that all people need to wear a mask when meeting indoors.”

According to James and Epstein, professors are not given the choice of teaching online. However, faculty are concerned about their health and safety. Some say they would prefer to teach online for the time being.

If a student contracts COVID-19, professors are not allowed to notify their classmates. The students are responsible for knowing if they were exposed to COVID-19.

“The administration advised us to follow the guidance of the Department of Public Health, which says it’s the students’ responsibility,” said Epstein.

Some GC students echoed their dissatisfaction with USG’s policies for COVID-19.

“I don’t agree with the policy if you’ve been vaccinated but exposed to COVID, that you can still come to class,” stated Morgan Burnett, a junior political science major.

“Professors shouldn’t have to do class in person, since students don’t have to wear masks, they should do what’s comfortable for them,” Chloe Spruell, a junior in the School of Nursing.

Dr. Meredith Steyer

USG allowed GC to resume normal operations for this semester. This decision led to unrest amongst both the students and the faculty at the lack of regulations for COVID-19.