Some members of the Senate Assembly concerned about COVID-19 security protocols at large off-campus events, current University of Michigan COVID-19 guidelines and the lack of required weekly tests, they said Monday at the meeting of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs.
SACUA Vice-President Caitlin Finlayson, Associate Professor of English at UM Dearborn, began by briefing SACUA members on her conversation with the central student government at the University of Michigan on testing capacity. COVID-19. According to Finlayson, many students, including members of the CSG, are frustrated with the University’s testing options and availability.
Currently, students without symptoms or exposure to COVID-19 can get tested through the COVID-19 Sampling and Testing Program, who has appointments open daily for those who are asymptomatic. Although students with symptoms are advised to get tested at University Health Services, where they must complete a form survey once there to determine whether or not they can be tested.
Kanakadurga Singer, a member of SACUA and associate professor of medicine from Michigan, asked other members about the progress of the CSG COVID-19 task force, which was established in October 2020 to help advocate for the needs of students during the pandemic. SACUA members responded, saying they are still trying to get in touch with the working group for further communication.
Singer said she believes it is vital for the University to improve testing availability so that students who have been exposed or are feeling sick can get tested for COVID-19 in a timely manner.
“I think it would be important for (the CSG COVID-19 task force) to know that there is this issue between campus testing and (UHS) testing and it’s a problem,” said Singer. “I mean, that doesn’t make sense. I understand you don’t want sick people to have your tests there, but there has to be a better (way).
At last Monday’s SACUA meeting, faculty members also expressed frustration at the University’s reluctance to approve faculty members’ requests to teach remotely this semester. The University had previously canceled COVID-19 classroom notifications alerting students who tested positive, sparking mixed reviews from community members and fears about the safety of in-person teaching this semester.
Finlayson said the CSG is also concerned about loose security regulations related to COVID-19 at off-campus events like football games. Since many participants may not be affiliated with the university, there is no guarantee of vaccination status or of enforcing mask-wearing at games, Finlayson said.
Finlayson also pointed out a CSG resolution which will be discussed at their next Meet Tuesday. The resolution calls on the university to require students to be tested twice a week and to impose masks during football matches, among other requirements.
“CSG has a series of resolutions like wanting weekly testing and things like that,” Finlayson said. “They emphasized that they wanted to support the faculty agency in the faculty classroom, that they really wanted instructors to have the power to act and the discretion over their own classes to make decisions about the health and safety of their students in the classroom. ”
Michael Atzmon, a member of SACUA and professor of engineering, asked Finlayson if she had discussed these issues with a member of the graduate student body. Finlayson said graduate students are represented by the CSG, although she is willing to meet separately with a representative from the graduate school if other members feel it necessary.
Atzmon said it seemed like professors and students share many of the same concerns about the safety of COVID-19.
“I am delighted to see that there is a lot of overlap between the motions that will be presented on Monday and what the students want, which is very encouraging,” said Atzmon.