Senate Meeting: USG provides details on monthly faculty meeting

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USG

Edgar Llivisupa

Baruch College’s Undergraduate Student Government met for its sixth Senate meeting of the fall 2021 semester on Oct. 12.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Osvaldo Garcia shared a report after attending the faculty senate meeting on Oct. 7.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Linda Essig was in attendance of the faculty meeting. In regard to the vaccine mandate, she said that the exact number of unvaccinated students isn’t recorded by Baruch to be reported. However, around 95% of students are vaccinated, 2% possess a valid exemption and 3% are unvaccinated.

The college is continuing to contact students who didn’t upload their vaccination details in time via phone and email.

Students must be fully vaccinated or possess a valid exemption before the first day of classes for the spring 2022 semester.

Students who haven’t submitted proof of vaccination but are enrolled in Hy-Flex classes will not be withdrawn. The same applies if students completed all in-person components of a hybrid class.

If a student needs to enter the campus in the future, they must have their vaccination details verified 10 days before their in-person visit.

The provost also told Garcia that a faculty and staff vaccine mandate is out of the college’s and USG’s control and would have to be a decision made by the state and governor’s office.

Chair of Philanthropy Jason Galak asked why Baruch doesn’t report exact numbers like other institutions for students to know how safe they are on campus.

Interim Associate Director of Student Activities Crystal Tejada said the numbers are constantly changing as students are reporting vaccination details or exemptions after being contacted by the college. She also added that the lack of data isn’t impacting safety.

“The chances that you running into that person is literally zero because they won’t be allowed into the building so in regards to safety, I don’t think it makes a difference because they’re not in the building,” she said.

Vice President of Legislative Affairs Karina Chiqui asked if vaccination would be a requirement to study abroad and if there were discussions about mandating booster shots. Tejada said it would likely be a requirement to study abroad, especially in a country that requires the vaccine to enter.

Regarding booster shots, Tejada said that there haven’t been any talks, as they’re optional and recommended for the elderly and immunocompromised.

Garcia asked if it would be possible to know the number of vaccinated faculty and breakthrough cases.

Assistant Director of Leadership Development Dinetta Curtis said that data is not collected by CUNY but suggested, referring to the CUNY covid tracker.

It lists the number of positive cases and tests conducted at individual sites. These tests are from unvaccinated faculty that must get tested before entering campus.

Concerning modalities for the spring semester, faculty are keen to move away from virtual instruction and toward hybrid or Hy-Flex classes, according to Garcia.

USG also asked for clarification on procedures if a student tests positive for COVID-19, such as having a class quarantine and if there’s an exemption to a professor’s attendance policy.

Curtis and Tejada said they will find more information for next week’s senate meeting.

Baruch President S. David Wu also spoke during the faculty senate meeting, addressing faculty concerns that Baruch is mainly sustained by tuition.

Wu replied that it is historically the case with the college, but the political climate is friendlier to CUNY. The state has a budget surplus that could lead to an 11% increase in funding for the 2022-2023 budget.

Vice President of Campus Affairs Erika Cumbe announced that New York State Assembly Member Catalina Cruz will be a guest speaker during the immigration resources event on Oct. 21.

Cruz was born in Colombia, came to the U.S. at the age of nine and lived as an undocumented immigrant for nearly a decade. She attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice and earned a juris doctorate from the CUNY School of Law.

Cruz represents state District 39, which includes the immigrant neighborhoods Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Corona. In her career, she advocated for immigrant rights.

Galak is seeking applicants to fill two vice chair positions for the philanthropy committee. Interested applicants must apply before Oct. 31 and can email Galak for more information.

Chair of Arts Leslie Acuapina provided an update on the “Baruch’s Got Talent” initiative on social media. All students are eligible to showcase their talents on USG’s Instagram.

Aucapina also mentioned a separate Halloween costume contest that would be in-person or via Instagram.

Rep. Sen. Damani Heywood provided an update for the self-defense workshop in partnership with the Center for Anti-Violence Education.

The event focuses on safety during a rise in number of hate crimes and xenophobic incidents. It will take place in the last week of October.