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Disregard Sue Mattison

Recently, the student body received an email from Provost Sue Mattison in which she decided to defame the Des Moines Register and their article about students’ efforts to get Drake’s COVID-19 data released. That was the final straw, Sue.

We want the number of cases, not the percentage of space taken up in the isolation halls. We also want to know what halls those are; we’ve heard rumors of students being kept in their current rooms for isolation rather than being moved to an isolation dorm. We deserve to know if the nearest case is across the street or across the hall. As human beings, we should have a right to make informed decisions on our own health. What Drake is doing, and what Mattison is defending, is withholding that information.

I have asthma, I am high risk and I work with the elderly who are also high risk. I cannot be putting myself in a position that could potentially harm me or, by extension, them.

By keeping students in the dark, I, and so many others, are being forced into an impossible situation. I’ve stayed quiet for the past three weeks in the hopes that our compliance to the rules would sway Drake to help us out and release the information. I can see now that that is not going to happen. 

These past few weeks have been filled with doubt and anxiety, not just for myself but for all of the students. No one knows what is going on. I refuse to live in darkness any longer.

In her email, Mattison stated, “Education is not a luxury, nor a product. Students are not customers.” So why, then, am I paying upwards of $50,000 a year to be enrolled at this university? A transaction in the most basic terms is the exchange of money for a good or service. I gave this institution money, and in return I hope to receive an education. How does that not make me a customer? 

If education is not a luxury or a product, payment should not be required to receive it.

Mattison also mentioned Drake’s mission promise. Let’s touch on that. Drake’s mission promise states, “The Drake experience is distinguished by collaborative learning among students, faculty, and staff”. Mattison ignoring the students’ efforts to obtain raw COVID data is a direct contradiction of this statement.

If Mattison truly cared to uphold Drake’s mission promise she would be willing to work with the students and, at the very least, come up with a compromise. 

“I’m a scientist”, she says, and as such she should also understand the idea of informed consent, which she is denying us by not giving us all the information needed to make our own health decisions. As an “epidemiologist and an educator” Mattison should realise the importance of raw, unadulterated data, and yet she refuses to share that data. Meaning that we, as residents on this campus, have no idea what the consequences of being on campus are.

Mattison also shared in the email that she has taken it upon herself to decide which students’ questions and concerns are legitimate, thus showing that she has decided that she is allowed to play god with our concerns. Just because someone’s concerns are different than your own does not make them invalid. Every person has the right to have their questions answered and concerns addressed. No one individual should hold the power to deny anyone that right.

Mattison also had the audacity to say, in reference to students who have reached out to her, “I really have zero time for that laziness.” The fact that she decided to put such a statement in an email that reached all students is baffling to me. There is no excuse for a faculty member of any sort, especially one so high up on the food chain, to degrade the students they are responsible for.

Mattison chose to send this email calling out the reporter who wrote the article Des Moines Register article “Petition pushes Drake for virus data: School is not revealing real-time test numbers,” telling Drake students to disregard “those who would have us take the easy way out” when she, herself, is seemingly taking the easy way out by not releasing the raw COVID data. So why, then, should Drake students not disregard Sue Mattison?

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