Home > Uncategorized > Our first duty as professors is the safety and well-being of our students

Our first duty as professors is the safety and well-being of our students

It’s not something we explicitly think about often, but our first duty as professors, above all other concerns, is the safety and well-being of our students.

Georgia Tech has sometimes failed in this duty. We failed Scout Schultz. We failed in our response to Covid-19 near the beginning Spring Break.

One of my first thoughts upon reading about the events of this weekend was “well, at least we’re already all off campus and in distance learning mode because of the pandemic.”

On January 1st, I didn’t really have “pandemic” on my 2020 bingo card. I didn’t have “desperately searching for a tiny bright side of a pandemic” either.

There’s no shortage of middle-aged suburban white men offering opinions right now, so I’m not sure I have anything useful to add. I’ll just note that in almost two decades of working at Georgia Tech, often far late into the night, I’ve never once had the police, or anyone else, question my right to be there. And I’ve never felt like I had to worry about it either. The same is not true for all of my colleagues. Having “white privilege” isn’t having something that I don’t deserve; it’s people who don’t have that privilege being denied something that they do deserve. It’s not me getting a bonus on my saving throws; it’s others getting a penalty on theirs.

The news was full of horrors before the Coronavirus arrived. All of those horrors are still there. And now, the horrific murder of George Floyd, and the aftermath, have largely pushed the pandemic across off front page — but the Coronavirus hasn’t heard the news, and it wouldn’t care if it did.

To any GT students reading this: please, please, please try to stay safe. I am worried about you when I (eventually) wake up. I am worried about you when I lie in bed trying to go to sleep. And I am worried about every minute in between.

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