BY CORIE LYNN
Classes are underway at Fort Hays State University following a week of cancellations and Spring Break. The university, already host to a large online student population, now conducts courses completely online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
For students and faculty, this means becoming familiar with Zoom video meetings for conducting class and business. On Thursday night, the Student Government Association likewise conducted their weekly meeting via the Zoom format.
Typical student senate meetings see reports from SGA’s executive staff and committees, as well as an open forum and discussion of new and old business. Thursday’s meeting, however, was informal, with no new or old business scheduled for discussion.
Reports from the executive staff focused on meetings they attended during the week. For President Brad DeMers, this included the Presidents’ Cabinet and Roundtable.
In addition, DeMers addressed the discussion surrounding a transition to pass-fail grading in courses, an initiative now taken by K-State. He updated the senators on FHSU’s course of action after contacting Provost Jill Arensedorf. The university has not made any decisions to make a similar move as the university is monitoring how the online transition is going.
Legislative Affairs Director Kaytee Wisley informed the student senators that SGA is still preparing for Spring elections, though all campaigning has been moved online. As chair of the Election Committee, she elaborated on the changes being made to elections due to the move online. This included extending the due date of the intent-to-run forms, allowing students to turn them in Friday, April 3.
“Elections themselves will be held [April 15-20], in the interest of giving students a lot of time to get engaged in that,” Wisely said.
Students can vote on TigerLink for their president and vice president, student representatives and the revised constitution and bylaws.
While the Elections Committee is continuing to meet, it is unclear how many Student Senate committees will continue to meet. During reports, the Appropriations Committee stated that it will not meet for the semester, while the Legislative and Political Action and Senate Affairs Committee must still decide.
With the final committee report coming from a representative of the University General Education Committee, the meeting moved into the Open Forum.
DeMers opened the discussion by reminding the senators to stay engaged with their constituents and to relay any problems they hear from students.
“The administration has said […] that they want to hear any student concerns that are going on because sometimes they don’t think about something or know about something,” DeMers said.
Along these lines, DeMers also raised the idea of a virtual town hall for students to attend regarding the response to the pandemic. He hopes that they could use the town hall to better address questions that students have.
Also during the Open Forum, the senators gave each other updates on how they were doing individually and how they have transitioned to online classes.
Before concluding, the senators gave a few announcements. This included an announcement that students should be contacted by the Student Care Team in the coming weeks as well as encouragement from Dr. Teresa Clounch.
“Just be sure to check in with each other,” Clounch said. “We really appreciate everything you’re doing, and be sure to take care of yourselves.”