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The Student Government Association held their 2nd town hall on March 11 to hear concerns of the students and for the executive officers of SGA to provide students with updates about current initiatives.
Matt Gregory, dean of students, provided updates on COVID-19 and the recent actions of the governor of Texas and his actions impact on students. Gregory said the Tech would strongly encourage the use of masks around the Texas Tech campus. Gregory said he was happy to see students hanging out at Raider Commons beside the library.
“It was so good to see that community life coming about and students hanging out and socializing with each other and I thought it’s wonderful,” he said. “However, we still got to remember that we’re in close proximity to each other.”
Gregory said he has noticed that people still wear masks even though the statewide mandate has been lifted.
Beyond OK is a mental health initiative, Dr. Gregory said that the student body president and her chief of staff as well as the Office of Communications and Marketing at the request of the president of Tech have been working on and will soon be coming out. He said that the goal of Beyond OK is help students who have felt isolated due to COVID-19.
“Another part of it is to demystify the decision of a particular person to go out and seek help,” Gregory said.” So you know, more people have things that pose them challenge on a regular basis. We just don’t know that because it’s taboo in our society to talk about.”
Finishing, he said the rec center on campus is trying to create more outdoor activities to participate in. As well, students can receive the COVID-19 vaccine if they go volunteer at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center.
Kimberly Thornton, director for Center for Campus Life, said her department has been working on new COVID-19 guidelines for student organizations to hold events both on and off campus. The first updated guideline is that student organizations that want to host events on campus in person both indoors and outside has a cap of 50 participants and must be approved by her.
Thornton said special permission is required for student organizations that want to hold events on campus that would have an attendance over 50 participants.
“We’ve chosen that student organizations will no longer be required to register events they are hosting off campus with a Center for Campus Life,” she said. “However, we are strongly encouraging our student groups hosting events off campus to continue to follow CDC recommendations to follow our on campus event guidelines to wear masks to social distance, and to follow Lubbock safe.”
Aliza Wong, interim dean of the Honors College, said she was asked by Faisal Al-hmoud to present a message of hope. She laughed, she said, because she finds hope in students and that the students inspire the faculty and staff.
“It’s the children who are teaching the adults right now,” Wong said.
Students thought her how to operate Zoom while also speaking up about social issues during a pandemic, Wong said, is what gives her hope. The student’s persistence to do better everyday.
“As soon as we can, we will be together again, face to face and in person. But be safe. Be well, and thank you for teaching this teacher, what it means to love.” Dr. Wong said.
SGA’s executive board gave updates about what’s going within SGA with Hunter Heck, student body president, saying SGA has been lobbying for students and higher education recently on Big 12 on the Hill and coming up, Texas Day. She also said that the senate recently passed resolutions on the Mask Mandate, Voice of Change online modules and student org Funding.
Heck also said that her administration is currenting working on restorative justice initiatives, diversity week, sustainability week and a women’s history event.
“I just want to continue to emphasize that we seek to be as approachable as possible and hopefully events like this continue to to streamline that communication between the student body, and us officers,” Heck said.
External Vice President, Faisal Al-Hmoud, said that he has been working on the Safe Bar initiative to help protect students who go to bars from sexual assault and educate bars ways to be cognizant of this issue. Klay Davis, internal vice president, said that the Student Senate has passed legislation concerning creating a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter on campus, address lighting on campus and digital raider cards.
“I am proud of, for the senators, for passing is, number one, a land acknowledgement, which is read at the beginning of every meeting, recognizing the Navajo and Mescalero Apache people, and the lands that they used to reside on them.” Davis said.
Graduate Vice President, Charles Ramey II, said he has been working on was the MLK celebration hosted by SGA, donating chess boards to a local school and hosting a pop up food pantry.
When the executive board and special attendees were asked about the recent lifting of the mask mandate and how Tech legal can keep the mask mandate on campus, Dr. Gregory said that the governor said nothing about public institutions and institutions of higher education.
“Now, the governor could always change that and say, you know it’s complete lifted, all across the state, including public institutions of higher ed or any other kind of public funded entities, but right now he has not done that,” he said. “That is an allowance for us that we as a community felt like we needed to continue.”
When asked about professors not enforcing the mask policy in the classroom or even professors not following the policy, Dr. Cath Duran, vice provost for Student Affairs, said students can bring their concerns to their respective advisors or department chairs.
Ramey said that there is also a way for students to report professors anonymously on the SGA’s website.
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