Student shares COVID-19 testimony at SGA meeting

BY CORIE LYNN

The Student Government Association held their second meeting of the semester Thursday night. 

Much of the evening was spent in discussion during Open Forum. It was during this time that Senator Will Barfield asked a fellow student, Tia Hayworth, to speak to the SGA about how COVID-19 has affected her.

Barfield began the time by stating his disappointment with student leaders, including members of the SGA.

“We’re all here to represent student interest, and those include their education interest, their economic interest, their health interest, and when you’re going to bars and house parties with no masks, that’s in direct violation of that,” Barfield said.

Hayworth informed the senate about how she and her boyfriend Kevin, a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, experienced genuine fear during the pandemic because of a heart condition he has.

She explained, however, that his fraternity brothers ignored these concerns, continuing to expose themselves and Kevin to possible contagion. This continued when he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week.

“I believe that some people don’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation that’s happening,” Hayworth said, “not even just on campus, but in town in general. A few people don’t seem to understand that they could be putting someone’s life in danger.”

The student senators responded positively to Hayworth’s story, with Reiter reaffirming the need to follow policy and speak up about violations.

“It’s super hard to talk to your peers about injustices or maybe issues you see among your peers, anything like that, so I thank you all for bringing this up in Open Forum. That’s how we create solutions,” Reiter said.

Also during the evening, Dr. Teresa Clounch, assistant vice president of student affairs, spoke on the etiquette for the virtual meetings, such as Zoom meetings, that are now commonplace for students and businesses alike.

Zoom etiquette, Clounch explained, includes being aware of what is in one’s background, staying muted when not speaking and having patience with the meeting’s host.

“Meeting via Zoom prepares us for that in-person connection,” she said.

Following Clounch’s discussion, the SGA moved into executive reports, during which President Haley Reiter informed the student senate she spent her week meeting with student organizations and helped allocate funds to one student affected by COVID-19 through the Student Emergency Assistance Fund.

Additionally, Reiter met with Jason Williby, chief executive officer of the FHSU foundation, to discuss the campus mural SGA Proposed last year. During this meeting, he informed her the students would need to raise $9000 to cover the cost of the mural.

The only other executive reports came from Vice President Bryson Homman and Legislative Affairs Director Crystal Rojas.

Homman reminded the Senate that intent-to-run forms are available on TigerLink for Freshman/KAMS students interested in a position with the SGA. The form is available through Sep. 11 and will be followed by the Freshman/KAMS election.

During her report, Rojas reminded the student senators she was still working on voter registration campaigns and anyone interested in assisting should reach out to her.

The committee reports for the evening were short as the committees largely have not begun business yet, but some, such as the Senate Affairs and Student Relations & Involvement Committees met to discuss expectations as well as what further meetings would look like.

Haworth’s testimony followed these reports, but the student senators also used the Open Forum to address other topics.

The senators learned from Rojas that plans for a virtual town hall, in which students can bring concerns and questions directly to the SGA, are in the works.

In addition to this, Clounch informed the senators that plans for further COVID-19 testing for students are still being formed, but those displaying symptoms of the virus can still receive testing through the Student Health Center.

Senator Ryan Stanley then voiced his concern of the environmental impact of the to-go containers now used in the McMindes Cafeteria.

Clounch addressed Stanley by explaining that the containers are the best option for mitigating the spread of the virus, but that she would ask the senior director of Chartwells, which provides campus meals, if greener options are available.

Before concluding the meeting, the senators gave announcements, including a voter registration drive to be held by HALO on the following Tuesday at 6 p.m.

With that, the Student Senate adjourned. They will reconvene over Zoom on Thurs., Sep. 10 at 7 p.m.

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