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Community of Care Coalition launches storytelling project

The project will share the stories from anonymous ASU workers about their experiences with the University during the COVID-19 pandemic

20201112 SDFC workers-5.jpg
ASU business communications junior Laurel Angelo and construction management sophomore Joey Marsit work at the desk in the SDFC on the Tempe Campus on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020.

The ASU Community of Care Coalition launched a new storytelling project to share anonymous stories from ASU workers to document their work experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The coalition, which formed in the summer in opposition to ASU's in-person fall semester, announced the "Voices on the Ground: Unheard Stories of the Pandemic" project on its Instagram account just four days after ASU workers announced plans for a union.

READ MORE: ASU workers announce they are forming a union

The project aims to create a space for workers to share "stories about labor exploitation, wage theft, racism, sexism, ableism, and all the horrors that workers face on a day to day basis," according to the Instagram post

Justine Hecht, a graduate student who teaches courses on social justice and is a member of the coalition, said the project will work to show that injustices are occurring across University departments and let workers know they are “not alone, and together we can actually have a really strong voice.”

“There's nothing worse than feeling alone in a situation of injustice,” Hecht said.

The first anonymous stories came from a student Community Assistant and from an employee in the University Technology Office, both of whom have been working with the coalition after coming forward with their stories.

Student-workers within University housing reported multiple problems throughout the pandemic. Before the semester began, multiple community assistants quit due to health concerns. Some desk assistants encountered students who had tested positive for COVID-19 breaking isolation protocols.

Hecht said those stories and the fear of retaliation from the University shared by many workers across departments highlighted the need for the Voices on the Ground project. The success of other ASU groups, such as the Multicultural Solidarity Coalition’s successful years-long push for the establishment of a multicultural center and equity for Black students this year, helped inspire the new project, she said.

“Over the last four years, (MSC) worked tirelessly to take their seat at the decision-making table and to get President (Michael) Crow to sign off on building a multicultural center,” Hecht said. Their success shows that ASU community members can make a change when working together and push the University to address a problem, she said.

The coalition hopes the project will “empower people to speak for themselves, honestly, and anonymously if they fear retaliation, about what’s working, what’s not working, why and why not at ASU,” wrote coalition member C.A. Griffith, an associate professor at the School of Film, Dance and Theater, in an email.

“Literally and figuratively, the COVID-19 pandemic reveals the best and worst of us as it unmasks institutional racism, economic and gender inequality and violence,” Griffith wrote.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Student workers need and deserve transparency, better treatment

Workers who wish to share their experiences at ASU can submit their stories in audio, written and video formats to The coalition will work to verify the identity of the accounts, but all stories will be shared anonymously, Hecht said.

Hecht said the stories are important to share and document to ensure the University’s voice is not the only one being heard.

“These stories are important," she said. "If we're only hearing … whoever’s in power story, we’re only getting half of what happened."

Correction: Due to a source error, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated who the first two anonymous stories would be from. The article was updated Dec. 22 at 3:34 p.m. to reflect the change.

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Wyatt MyskowProject Manager

Wyatt Myskow is the project manager at The State Press, where he oversees enterprise stories for the publication. He also works at The Arizona Republic, where he covers the cities of Peoria and Surprise.

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