The Boldly Elon Solidarity Collective — a coalition of student organizations looking to cause policy change on campus — will be holding a virtual town hall on Monday, Aug. 3, at 6 p.m. titled “We Won’t Die for Elon,” to discuss Elon University’s decision to resume in-person classes this fall.
According to a statement issued to Elon News Network, BESC condemns the university for “their perverse abuse of power” and said the collective will “demand transparency from Elon’s administration in their decision making moving forward.”
The statement also cites a rise in hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 in North Carolina as a reason to why it is unsafe to resume in-person classes this fall.
Recently, BESC released a list of demands addressed to Elon President Connie Book, the Elon Board of Trustees and the Elon administration, which includes sections on workers’ rights, law enforcement, community wellness and financial transparency. The organization has given the university until July 31 to respond.
The demands were created at a meeting in which members of the collective spoke about issues on campus before brainstorming ideas for the list, according to junior Trinity Dixon, one of the original organizers of BESC.
“We wanted to respect everyone’s perspective and opinions so we all reached a consensus for the demands and made sure everyone felt seen and heard,” Dixon said.
According to Dixon, the organization believes these demands are vital for creating an environment at Elon in which everyone can feel safe and heard.
“We think all of the demands are important and vital to fulfilling Elon’s honor code and values of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Dixon said.
The organization started when students decided they wanted to unite to address problems facing the Elon community. According to Dixon, these issues include Elon Univerity Police’s mutual aid agreement with surrounding law enforcement— including Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson, who the collective regards as a white supremacist for his treatment of minority communities.
The university’s relationship with the faculty union — the National Labor Relations Board is reviewing aspects of the union at Elon’s request — and a lack of transparency with coronavirus policies were also reasons the collective was started.
Senior Jay Tiemann decided to take part in BESC after seeing student concerns dismissed while he was on the President’s Student Leadership Advisory Council and Strategic Planning Committee.
“I’ve been involved with various organizing efforts since my sophomore year, and it’s become clear to me that petitions, polite emails and meetings with administrators are not enough to move Elon to do the right thing,” Tiemann said. “We hope that Elon will change its policies to meet the demands.”
The main goal is to hold the university accountable and push for them to support all students, faculty and staff, Tiemann said.
“Right now we are focusing on the most time-sensitive issues, especially for supporting our faculty union and trying to prevent a COVID outbreak on campus,” Tiemann said.
Recently, several adjunct professors’ contracts were not renewed for the fall semester. BESC has also launched a #DoBetterElon campaign along with Elon ROSE, which asks people to not recommend the university on social media because of Elon’s actions regarding adjuncts, racial injustice and financial transparency.
Tiemann also feels that reopening campus and requiring in-person attendance is an irresponsible move by the university.
“Elon should not reopen at full capacity in the fall, and putting the onus on students to behave is only setting us up for disaster,” Tiemann said.
According to Dixon, the collective is open to all students and student organizations that want to join.
“There is no requirement for membership, but students who are coalition members should be action-oriented and ready to support each other in organizing efforts,” Dixon said. “Our organizing group is not just a place for students to air complaints, it’s a place for students to plan tangible action steps, set goals and accomplish those goals.”