SGA talks Covid-19, budget changes, campus safety

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By: Mira Costello

Co-Editor

   Preparing for elections, next year’s budgeting, and spring events, the Student Government Association met over Zoom Feb. 4 and – after exchanging Valentine candies – in person on Feb. 11. 

   In both meetings, SGA executives discussed developing Covid-19 protocols and advisories. President Rana Hamad noted that, under new guidelines, close contact can occur if a student is in a classroom and within three feet of an infected individual for over 15 minutes. However, contact outside of the classroom at a distance of six feet or greater is not considered a close contact. 

   Vice President Kayla Isenblatter also discussed new quarantine protocols: if students test positive for Covid-19 and show symptoms, they should quarantine for ten days. Students who test positive but have no symptoms can quarantine for five days.

   Executives also encouraged safer mask-wearing practices. Cloth masks alone are discouraged, with surgical masks and N95-style masks providing the best protection. KN95 masks, which can typically be used for about a week if worn only a few hours a day, are available at the Gateway for no charge on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

   Drop-off testing for Covid-19 is available at the Health and Wellness Center, the Administration Building, and the Community Building. Vaccines are also available on campus: students can receive $20 on their Crimson Card for getting or reporting a booster shot, and the Health and Wellness Center is also able to vaccinate friends and family members of IU South Bend students. 

   Treasurer Christian Martinez reported on discussion from the Senate Faculty Budget Committee, which focused on the expected revenue shortfall of $1.3 million for the 2022-2023 academic year. Due mostly to decreases in enrollment, Treasurer Martinez said the shortfall will lead to cuts in “unnecessary spending,” which could cause restructuring of schools and departments within IU South Bend. Treasurer Martinez does not anticipate the revenue shortfall heavily affecting the SGA budget, as he expects about $140,000 of this year’s budget to roll over. 

   In committee reports, Senator Anna Roberts reported for Safety that no uses of force by the IUPD have occurred in the last few months. She noted that one sexual assault on campus was reported in Dec. 2021, but that Chief of Police Kurt Matz assured the committee there is not a threat to anyone on campus, and that they hope to wrap up the case by the end of the month.

   Safety Committee members collaborated with IUPD officers on Feb. 9 for their annual safety walk, which aims to identify areas on campus that could use improvements in visibility or safety features, particularly at night. Although Senator Roberts noted that there were some areas with flickering and blocked lights, she said that campus is very safe overall. The Safety Committee hopes to hold another safety walk in late Spring, “when campus might look a little different,” Senator Roberts said. She encouraged students to use the mobile app RAVE Guardian, which allows students to share their location, find a police escort and more in order to feel secure on campus. 

   Senator Ariel Watts also reported for the Student Engagement Committee. In an effort to increase attendance and participation at athletic events, Student Engagement will host games at halftime – such as half-court shot contests – for prizes. Senator Watts encouraged students to come try their luck Saturday, Feb. 19 at the men’s basketball game.

   The SGA meets every Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. in SAC 206. The meetings are open to the public, and students, staff and faculty are encouraged to attend.

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