SGA discusses FHSU’s spring semester plans

BY CORIE LYNN

This week, Fort Hays State University students received an email detailing how the university is approaching courses for the spring semester.

To provide students with more information about the week’s announcement and answer student questions, FHSU Provost Dr. Jill Arensdorf attended the Thursday night Student Government Association meeting.

Arensdorf first announced that 20 new eight-week courses for the 2020 Fall semester are available for pre-enrollment. The courses begin in the coming weeks and are offered online.

As she moved to explain the spring semester, Arensdorf stated that course planning began in July and the setup would be like that of the fall but with a few changes.

“We are going to notate courses very similarly to what we did this fall,” she said. “But we made some changes to those definitions that I think will be better for you and for the faculty members that are teaching those courses.”

This spring, courses held completely in-person will have a more relaxed timeline determined by each department. Hybrid courses will continue to last the entire semester, but departments are encouraged to post their notations early to better allow students to ask questions and determine their schedules.

At the moment, total online courses are held similar to virtual courses in that classes are not required to have scheduled meetings. This will change in the spring as these courses will now be required to have a scheduled meeting during the week. In addition, these courses, as well as the in-person and hybrid courses, will continue to cost the on-campus tuition rate.

Following her talk, Sen. Will Barfield asked whether FHSU, like other universities, planned to send students home following Thanksgiving break. According to Arensdorf, faculty has not made that call, but students will know ahead of time should that decision be made.

“However, we are set up to be able to make that decision, should we need to do that for the health and safety or our students, faculty and staff,” she said.

With the end of Arensdorf’s discussion, a handful of student senate executive members and committee chairs gave reports.

President Haley Reiter informed the senators that the Student Emergency Assistance Fund had more applications during the week, allowing the committee to award $1,400 to three students.

The other executive reports came from Legislative Affairs Director Crystal Rojas and Community Relations Director Jayden Siebert.

Rojas reminded senators to make plans for voting in the November elections, whether that includes registering for the first time or applying for mail-in ballots. In addition, she encouraged those registered in Ellis County to watch the local debates that are planned for October.

Siebert informed the student senate that she made plans to meet with the FHSU Foundation to begin planning the Big Event, which is the annual spring service event hosted by the SGA.

Three committees gave reports, the first being an interview and two bills up for first reading from the Senate Affairs Committee.

Members of the General Education Committee reported several courses have been reviewed but then tabled as the committee must make changes to their rubrics, while a member of the Open Educational Resource Committee announced it had plans to make a video sharing student testimonials about OERs.

In the Open Forum that followed, Barfield voiced concern about a student who claimed to have been fired for trying to enforce the mask mandate.

Reading the student’s testimony, he informed them the student, who is high-risk because of a heart condition, had worked in the Memorial Union for two years prior to her firing.

“ ‘My managers would never speak up when people were refusing to wear masks or walking the wrong way on the stairs,’” the student testimony said, “‘even though we were supposed to. When I would speak up, I would get in trouble and be told not to worry about it.’ “

The student’s concerns also included co-worker exposure to the virus and large events in the Memorial Union where health and safety guidelines weren’t enforced.

As he concluded the testimony, Barfield expressed his concern and wondered whether administrators were aware of the situation. There was no further discussion regarding the testimony. 

After Open Forum, the student senators moved into new and old business. During this time, they read two bills for the first time and passed two more bills allowing student organizations to change funding line items.

Before concluding the meeting, the student senators made several announcements.

The American Democracy Project will host a streamed presidential debate watch party on Tuesday with a discussion to follow. Similarly, they will participate in a national Times Talk the next day to discuss with students from across the country how the debate went.

The following Thursday at 6 p.m., students can attend a Hispanic Heritage trivia night and participate in discussion of financial aid resources on campus.

In the coming weeks, a virtual 5K will take place for suicide awareness, and the Social Work Club will sell Halloween cookie decorating kits.

Dr. Joey Linn then took the time to inform the student senators that FHSU Vice President for Administration and Finance and General Counsel Joe Bain would attend next week’s meeting to answer student questions.

The final announcement came from Vice President Bryson Homman as he announced Lauryn Becker and Maria Linda Gomez won the Freshman/KAMS SGA elections

With the conclusion of announcements, the weekly meeting came to a close. The Student Senate will reconvene at 7 p.m. Oct. 1.

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