President Joe Bertolino speaks at SGA meeting

Sofia RositaniArts & Entertainment Editor

Ellis McGinleyCopy Editor

Sarah Gossman, student government president, presented university president Joe Bertolino with questions from the Student Government Association (SGA) representatives and student body.

Questions concerned the future of COVID-19 testing on campus, isolation housing, diversity, the university hiring freeze and more regarding next semester’s student life and university culture.

“We’re not going to take anything away. Whatever we’re doing now, we’re going to continue. In fact, we’re being encouraged by DPH to encourage that testing anyway,” Bertolino said, referring to the university’s anticipated fall COVID-19 procedures.

“I think that’s going to alleviate a lot of student anxiety towards going back in the fall, knowing that whatever COVID regulation we have now will be continued on,” Gossman said.

The university has required free testing for all residents and offered it to commuters as necessary. But the testing schedule has changed before. Last semester, students were tested in randomized groups: now, all residents must be tested every week.

“Today I was told that maybe, out of all our residents, maybe four tested positive out of twelve hundred. So, we’ve been doing well,” Bertolino said. Regarding COVID-19 vaccinations, he said “I would be careful to assume that by ‘x’ date, everyone that wanted to be vaccinated will be vaccinated.” The university also cannot require students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Bertolino said, “trying to get an appointment for some folks has been a bit of a challenge.”

His first dose is scheduled “for next Sunday” and will be publicized on his social media. Members of the student body expressed interest in the potential benefits of Bertolino making his vaccination public to potentially alleviate student fears around vaccines.

“We’re thinking about partnering with a third party to see if we can have a vaccination site on campus. I’d really like that, but I can’t guarantee it. Again, if we can make that happen – and it wouldn’t just be for students, it’d be for students, staffers, community members – if we can provide easier access for students, that certainly doesn’t hurt. That’s one of the things we’re exploring.”

Bertolino was also asked about efforts made by administration officials to diversify university faculty, particularly given the ongoing hiring freeze.

“Even though there is a hiring freeze, that doesn’t mean we don’t hire people… Look, the truth of the matter is we are always talking about the diversification of the administration, of the faculty, of the staff, of our students, and it’s been a challenge for us as an institution. Personally, it’s frustrating at times. But that is one of the reasons why we hired vice president Ariza,” he said, referring to Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Diane Ariza.

For the President’s report, Gossman said that there is an approval of an INQ class for students who are struggling with their classes. This class will help students who are academically struggling with their courses and skills such as time management.

Nichole Henderson, Director of First Year Experience, implemented it for the following Fall semester.

Gossman’s report also said there will be a list of courses based around racial injustice. The Diversity Equity and Inclusion department will be sending out links for students who are interested in these courses to register for next term These classes will range from English courses to STEM courses, all based on racial injustice.

According to the Vice President of SGA Madison Miceli, the Chairperson of the World Language department Resha Cardone said in a meeting with Miceli and Gossman that many students have liked the online courses in the language department, so they will continue with online, hyflex, and in-person courses. For the STAMP test, Cardone has noticed less students taking it due to it being online, so she thinks it is because it is not offered on campus that less student has been taking it.

There also may be future talks on eco-friendly utensils at Adanti Student Center and Conn. Hall, according to SGA member Brandon Lovene.

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