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With the semester starting only a few weeks ago, the administrators behind the University of Nevada, Reno already made multiple questionable decisions that affect students’ experiences, health and productivity. 

Even after allowing freshmen in NevadaFIT to sit in a burning stadium during a heat wave for two years in a row, this week presented another example of the University failing its students – hazardous smoke.

As of Sept. 12, the air quality index reached 390 in front of the Knowledge Center. A 390 in the AQI means that there are severe health warnings. It is said that with the current state of air quality, every person is prone to experience intense and harmful health issues.

After smoke filled with particles from a nearby fire came to Reno, the air offered very little visibility of a student’s surroundings. This is both dangerous for students who walk on campus, but especially those who use crosswalks and a driver may not see the student crossing.

The most questionable issue is how neglectful the University is about the issue at hand. Forcing students to attend classes in person with the current smoke can cause massive consequences, and it will be more damaging to the school’s reputation because a simple solution is right in front of the University’s face. 

It is absolutely abnormal that our campus spent multiple years focusing on online academics and then proceeded to forget the process of the transition. It seems that the University has little or no backup plan at all. It simply should be as easy as sending out a statement and having all professors do an online class for students when the outside weather is in such unhealthy conditions.

Frankly, many professors on our campus currently do not support Zoom classes or recordings for those who are sick and enforce an attendance policy. There is no reason that an environment deviation, that harms everyone overly exposed to it, is not considered in this attendance policy. If you want to have your sick days when you get a cold, you simply are required to come to class. You are forced to walk across campus in the brutally painful smoke.

Lots of students have been feeling the need to dust off their masks and wear them around campus. Other students have relied on covering their face with their shirts as they walk. This is simply unacceptable and comes across as a massive sign of disrespect from the University to the students. It forces you to question what the University would do in harsher situations, and it is clear now more than ever that the University would rather prioritize their profits than protect their students from simplest environmental issues.

The worst part? They seem to not care. 

Opinions expressed in The Nevada Sagebrush are solely those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of The Sagebrush or its staff. Gabriel Kanae is a student at the University of Nevada studying journalism. They can be reached at edrewes@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.

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