Texas State's Faculty Senate received a debriefing over a COVID-19 vaccine workgroup meeting, listened to a proposal concerning an autumn break from members of the Student Government and heard a presentation over the functions of Institutional Inclusive Excellence at its regular Nov. 18 meeting.
Senate member Dale Blasingame debriefed Faculty Senate over a COVID-19 vaccine workgroup meeting and informed them of the logistics of a potential vaccine rollout.
According to Blasingame, Texas State is in the process of applying to be a provider of vaccines once they become available. Once the university receives the vaccine, it will be administered in stages, with healthcare workers, the elderly, those in assisted living centers and other vulnerable populations likely to receive it first.
"The biggest tricky part is going to be the logistics," Blasingame said. "[The workgroup will be] handling everything from what day are we gonna do it, where are we going to do it? How are people gonna get there? Who's going to administer them? How are we going to do the paperwork? What's the software we're going to use to [do] all the tracking? There's an intense amount of logistical hurdles to this."
Blasingame says the university is preparing the rollout based on the number of individuals interested in receiving a vaccine presented in surveys of the university, which Blasingame says is about half the population. He says shipments of potential vaccines would be 5,000 doses at a time to service a population likely around 50,000.
Student Government Parliamentarian Cody DeSalvo and Senator KeAirra Haynes asked for feedback from the Faculty Senate over the prospect of a two-to-three-day “autumn break” for future fall semesters.
DeSalvo says the proposed break would take place somewhere near the 39th consecutive class day of the fall semester, as he claimed the stretch between Labor Day and Thanksgiving with almost no breaks takes a large toll on students.
“In the fall semester, depending on the configuration of the calendar, I've looked at the last three, on average, there are  consecutive class days before there is a break, and that's Thanksgiving,” DeSalvo said. “And then very quickly after that, we go into finals. So, [Haynes] brought the idea for the ability for people to have a little bit of mental health break to allow everyone to sort of catch their breath in the middle of the fall.”
Some Senate members agreed with the need for a break in the middle of the fall semester but expressed concern over the effect it would have on classes or labs taught during the potential days off.
Senate member Ben Martin says off days that only affect a single section of a class, such as a Monday, Wednesday and Friday class and not a Tuesday and Thursday class, causes one class to lag behind the other potentially the rest of the semester.
“I will say, our department and, I'm sure there's others, we have lots of multi-section courses that all need to stay in sync,” Martin said. “And every time we have one of these weeks, like MLK Day, Thanksgiving, [where] there's an interruption in that full week, it totally screws us up...If they get out of sync, then you have somebody teaching really two classes at once for the rest of the semester.”
Dr. Stella Silva, interim director of Equity and Inclusion, spoke to the Faculty Senate about the structure and services provided by Institutional Inclusive Excellence (IIE), as well as how the work it does impacts the university.
Silva claimed IIE helps incoming hires at the university understand the culture and its non-negotiables once they arrive. Silva says should a prospective faculty or staff member's views not include serving everyone, they would be able to choose a different institution that would allow them to operate as they see fit.
"If there's an individual for whatever reason, spiritual or religious belief system, that part of their value system feels like they may not want to serve or have a transgender student in their class, we're a state institution, that's not an option," Silva said.
Silva also discussed some aspects of the Sept. 22 executive order signed by President Donald Trump which prevents “race or sex-stereotyping or scapegoating." The university released a statement Oct. 27 announcing that diversity training will continue following its pause after the executive order.