COVID-19 crisis in India

Carnegie Mellon students have been circulating a petition asking the university’s administration to take action in response to the COVID-19 humanitarian crisis in India. The petition, which has over 250 student and 60 faculty signatures, was created on April 25 and asks Carnegie Mellon University President Farnam Jahanian to help India deal with the COVID-19 surge in four main ways.

First, the petitioners asked that Carnegie Mellon recognizes the stress that this new wave of COVID-19 in India has caused for students. Second, they also requested that Jahanian advocate for the United States government to ease the restrictions on the Defense Production Act, which they say would facilitate the export of critical materials for healthcare supplies and vaccines to India. Furthermore, it asks for the Carnegie Mellon administration to advocate for the processing of a Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver, which they say would help alleviate the vaccine shortage in India through the sharing of intellectual property and vaccine technology. Finally, the petition also asks Carnegie Mellon to mobilize its alumni network to increase donations to help India and to allow for student organizations to contribute a portion of their budget to donate to organizations helping India.

Four days after the petition was released, President Jahanian released a statement via email to the entire Carnegie Mellon University community. He acknowledged the “devastating impact of COVID-19 in India” and that this surge has compounded stress on many students. Jahanian also wrote that he is working with the faculty to grant accommodations and additional support for students affected by the COVID-19 crisis in India. Jahanian also encouraged students to reach out to the Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) if needed.

President Jahanian went on to say that Carnegie Mellon University would continue to advocate for proactive measures to assist India. He also announced that Carnegie Mellon partnered with nine other institutions from Pennsylvania in signing a letter "urging swift action in support of students around the world, including possibly waiving in-person interview requirements or allowing visa interviews to be conducted online." He also acknowledged the possibility of student organizations donating a part of their annual budget, and said that he had tasked administrators with determining "how the university can support these student efforts."