In the first business meeting of the new semester, Elon University student government representatives discussed the status of COVID-19 at the university as the campus moves to Level 2 — High Alert on Feb. 11, and voted to override a vetoed bill that would allow students studying abroad to run for senate.
Jana Lynn Patterson, dean of students and the associate vice president of student life, gave a coronavirus update after the university moved to Level 2 – High Alert after only three full days of spring semester classes.
“I cannot impress upon folks enough that we cannot let our guard down,” Patterson said, after citing anecdotal reports of students being more relaxed about COVID-19 this semester. “Folks should be as conscientious and vigilant about masking and distancing, even more so now than in the fall.”
Patterson also said that the university has conducted over 30,000 tests in the last few months, and that weekly testing is allowing the school to discover cases earlier and more rapidly.
Patterson reminded members of SGA of when in-person classes were canceled last spring in the early months of the pandemic and warned that not being careful this semester could yield a similar outcome.
“We certainly want to do everything we can do to avoid that,” she said. “But it's going to take the students making their own behavior changes, quite frankly.”
She also said that the university is working on an application to the state this week to receive vaccines directly to the university later in the spring when they become more available. This way, the university could vaccinate the on-campus population starting with faculty and staff, and later moving to students.
“Many people in our school of health sciences, as well as our athletic trainers on campus, have been trained to administer injections,” Patterson said. “In the event that vaccines become more readily available...we would be able to mobilize pretty quickly to offer vaccines on campus.”
University physician Ginette Archinal recently told Elon News Network that for Elon to become a vaccination site, the university needs the ability to store doses, have enough people to distribute the vaccine to and have the ability to record data.
SGA senators voted to move forward with the bill allowing students to run for SGA even if they were abroad after Executive President Robbie Miley vetoed the legislation back in December.
Miley vetoed the bill due to his concerns that a section in the bill that changed the dates of the new election cycle would not provide new members — specifically new executive members — enough time to transition into their positions.
“This is a huge transition, and it goes by very quick,” Miley said, referring to the period from new member elections to being sworn in. “That was the reasoning for the veto, it wasn’t about studying abroad.”
Although delegates still decided to override the veto, senators like Nicholas Urbanski, the class of 2021 vice president and author of the bill, detailed ways to make the transition period more streamlined to alleviate any concerns from incoming new members.
“We would recommend, or even require new members to go to as many meetings as possible after being elected and before being sworn in,” Urbanski said, which he added would allow new members to see the previous executive members in action.
He also said that executive members would also provide their successors with a transition document that detailed the various responsibilities of their positions.