Texas State's Student Government Senate received information concerning the university’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout on campus and spring commencement, heard resolutions over LGBTQIA+ pride and university police reform and questioned extending Thanksgiving break as well as not requiring masks in certain outdoor situations, at its Feb. 1 meeting.
The senate’s second meeting of the calendar year consisted of University President Denise Trauth addressing the Student Government. Senators also decided which resolutions would get voted on during the next weekly session.
Trauth thanked the senators in attendance for helping keep Texas State stable by “organizing the civil engagement” on campus during the latest presidential election and other events during the last academic semester.
Trauth says May commencement will take place in a similar fashion to last semester’s ceremonies — live-streamed and in Bobcat Stadium with “strict health and safety modifications."
Three in-person ceremonies will take place on May 13, and another three will take place on May 14. A make-up day in case of bad weather is reserved for May 15.
Students will be limited to seven guests each, an increase from the four-guest limit during the fall 2020 ceremonies. More information, such as the specific date each major graduates, can be found on the commencement ceremony’s website.
Elaborating on the vaccine rollout on campus, Trauth says Texas State is a vaccine provider in the eyes of the Texas Department of State Health Services but not a "hub." Trauth says "hubs" are prioritized over locations without the designation and reiterates claims made by Chief Medical Officer Emilio Carranco that Texas State is prepared to deliver vaccinations but is missing vaccines.
While taking questions, Trauth was asked by Sen. Patrick Moloney if Texas State students will have to pay to be vaccinated. Trauth says no student will pay out of pocket for the vaccine but did express some uncertainty surrounding the existence of an administration fee covered by a student’s insurance, should they have it. She stresses no student will pay for a vaccination themselves, regardless of their insurance situation.
“Nobody pays that administration fee out of their own pocket,” Trauth says. "If a student doesn't have insurance, and the administration fee is assessed, then there is no administration fee. Nobody, no student has to pay anything out of their own pocket.”
Parliamentarian Cody DeSalvo asked Trauth if the university would follow the Texas model for vaccine prioritization groups, meaning those in Tier 1A or 1B would receive vaccines first. Trauth says the decision to vaccinate its student community is not in the hands of Texas State but in the hands of the county or the state.
“When we get past these first groups, there'll be a state decision or a decision to decide whether or not a university that is a vaccination site, as we are, can vaccinate just their own community or can vaccinate others, in addition to their own community,” Trauth says. “We are doing exactly what the state and the county are telling us to do. And right now, what they're telling us is that we're not getting any vaccines, for a while at least.”
Trauth confirms spring break will carry on as planned, from March 15-19, and says the break is needed; however, the university asks students to take safety precautions before returning to campus, as some in-person classes have resumed since Feb. 1.
“A midterm break is good, not only for our students’ well-being but frankly, our faculty and staff also need this kind of a break,” Trauth says. “Much like we did after the winter holiday, we'll expect students, faculty and staff to practice social distancing and self-isolate before returning to our campuses after spring break.”
After the president’s departure, the Student Government opened the floor to public comments, in which three students spoke about the importance of resolutions representing the LGBTQIA+ community at Texas State, such as the one tabled indefinitely at the Student Government's last session, along with several other resolutions.
Some of the students spoke about the struggle of being misgendered or dead-named and how the university could help with those struggles with such resolutions, especially since going through the legal side of transitioning can be a difficult and expensive process for many.
Texas State student Diaz Diaz spoke against the tabling of the resolution concerning trans-friendly naming procedures, as well as a resolution proposing signs be posted for students that allow them to remove their masks if they are properly socially-distanced outside. Diaz says while the LGBTQIA+ community at Texas State may not be the majority, they still do have needs and must be protected.
The Student Government Senate then read aloud resolutions to be voted on in the next session. The first one included establishing an LGBTQIA+ pride rally to be held annually on Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day. The rally would begin at Old Main and culminate in front of the president’s house.
The next resolution introduced called for an increased presence of the University Police Department on campus due to a “recent spike in crime on-and-off-campus as well as in student housing in the surrounding areas.”
Another resolution called for the extension of Thanksgiving break to a full week, claiming classes on the two days before Thanksgiving break is “monotonous” and “often time [canceled] regardless.” The resolution also claims the break “ensures the health and safety of the student body before traveling for Thanksgiving.”
The last resolution slated to be voted on next session asks the university to “properly post and inform students that they are allowed to remove their masks if taking proper precautions while outdoors,” adding that Texas State students “need to be constantly reminded with postings on campus that they are allowed to remove their masks if responsibly socially distancing.”
All Student Government meetings and resolutions can be accessed by visiting the Student Government website.