Op-Ed: An open letter to the Whitman Coronavirus Task Force

Jake Wang, First-year

Dear Chair Peter Harvey,

We, select members of the class of 2024, appreciate the hard work you and the Whitman Coronavirus Task Force have done in the past many months in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Balancing the desire for in-person learning, the needs of each class, and the needs of the Walla Walla community at large is simply no easy task.

In President Murray’s October 9 letter, Whitman College announced the possibility to offer academic pods to select members of the class of 2024 and the class of 2023. While this plan is leading Whitman in the right direction for reopening, it is extremely detrimental to the class of 2024. 

We urge the Whitman Coronavirus Task Force to offer the choice of returning to campus to all members of the class of 2024.

While all Whitties are experiencing the difficulties of remote learning, the class of 2024 is, perhaps, impacted the most. The majority of us have yet to establish a support system in college, and many of our friends from high school have departed for their colleges in early fall. More importantly, if academic pods come to fruition, the class of 2024 will be divided over those who received a pod assignment and those who did not. This will be detrimental to the integrity of our class.

When other small liberal arts colleges or national universities reopen, they typically prioritize the return of their newest members. In an email, dated October 2, the University of Portland Coronavirus Task Force writes to its students, “We believe that the first-year students should be given first opportunity to reside in residence halls and receive the foundational community experience enjoyed by students before them.” We understand the fluidity of Whitman’s reopening plan for the spring of 2021, so we would like to encourage the Task Force to consider our return as one of the possible scenarios.



Select Members of the Class of 2024 (add your name to the list here). To see the current signatures, visit the Google Doc

Note: A copy of this letter was sent via email and U.S Mail to Chair Harvey and President Murray on October 22, 2020.