Student Government Report from February 9th


(Courtesy of Student Government)

Jessica Schmidt, Staff Writer

In response to the questions and concerns surrounding the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, student government spent the majority of their assembly answering direct questions raised by constituents. Dean of Residence Life and Housing Matt Clifford also attended to answer some student questions, especially those surrounding the new quarantine measures that were instituted on Monday.

Clifford began the meeting with hopeful optimism by stating that he believes the surge will taper off, and that the university will successfully make it through this difficult time. He spoke on new measures the university has enacted to help offset the limited availability of the quarantining hotels. Instead of sending all students who are positive or contact traced to the hotels, the university has begun to place students who currently reside in double rooms into vacant rooms across campus. Students who currently reside in singles on campus are instructed to quarantine in their rooms until testing and to avoid contact with other students who may live in their hall or in their suite. The university hoped these measures would reserve the hotel space specifically for students in isolation who have tested positive or are showing symptoms of COVID-19. Clifford also mentioned that the university has secured additional hotel space that will be available for quarantine and isolation purposes. 

Many students, however, voiced their opposition and concerns to these new practices. Specifically, many senators objected to the idea of placing a contact-traced individual into a room that, while vacant, still requires the use of a common bathroom which is being used by non-contact traced individuals. Concerns were raised that moving individuals who had been in contact with a sick student into rooms that share common spaces could lead to additional exposures. 

According to Clifford, quarantined students are under strict instruction to remain in their rooms except when using the bathrooms, and to always wash their hands and wear a mask when using public facilities. Despite the notion that the risk of transmission may be low with the common use of bathrooms, students on campus were vocal about simply not being comfortable sharing bathrooms with exposed individuals. 

Other concerns were raised including miscommunication about the length of quarantining time, the reasoning behind the closures of the ZSR Library, Benson, and the Wellbeing Center as well as the feelings of isolation many students, especially freshmen living in single rooms are experiencing during this Modified Orange status. These concerns, among others, are being raised in meetings with university administration as senators attempt to get more clarification regarding the status on campus. 

Meanwhile, all students and individuals are encouraged to send in any questions and concerns regarding COVID-19 protocols to their individual senators, or to the link in the Student Government Instagram bio.