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Dean Olstad Addresses COVID-19 Response

Posted: 2020-03-12 10:17:57   Expiration: 2040-03-19 11:17:57

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The Associated Students of Madison (ASM) Student Council met on Wednesday, March 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the Student Activity Center Hearing Room.

Dean Olstad provided an update regarding UW-Madison’s decision to remove face-to-face instruction from March 14 to at least April 10 due to the COVID-19 situation. The situation will be re-evaluated on April 6, with a decision will be made to either resume face-to-face instruction or suspend it indefinitely for the rest of the semester.

Dean Olstad emphasized that there were no confirmed cases of students on campus at this time. Student employees will not be forced to work, but rather provided with opportunities to do so. Despite the suspension of face-to-face instruction, university business operations will remain in place. There may be reduced hours in the Unions, libraries and Student Activity Center, but these conversations will come from the students involved. Dean Olstad also shared that events across campus are being cancelled and large gatherings will not be promoted.

Travel restrictions will be implemented, as UW-Madison is discouraging non-essential travel away from Dane County. Conferences and travel for Registered Student Organizations (RSO’s) will be cancelled.  

University Housing will remain open for students who are granted an exception due to extenuating circumstances. To be granted an exception, students will have to first apply for one. Cleaning standards across campus will increase, with deep cleanings and high frequency of rotations occurring. 

In response to questions, it was shared that the Commission on Higher Education implements a 12 week minimum for academic credit to be earned. Academic Deans will be the main points of contact regarding this. Additionally, gyms and intramural sports will maintain operations. University Health Services (UHS) and mental health services will remain open, with remote opportunities being explored for mental health services. No typical university functions will be suspended, with UHS also continuing one-on-one counseling. Graduate students are to connect with their direct supervisors regarding the possibility of work, as they are contract employees. Supervisors are encouraged to make accommodations in this area. Regarding reimbursement for the dorms, Dean Olstad referenced Jeff Novak and Sarah Olesky from University Housing as being the decision makers in this department. Finally, it is much too early to know how this will impact summer plans.

Next, there were two special orders.

Jenna Friedman, Assistant Director of Bias Response in the Dean of Students Office, first spoke. She discussed the bias reporting process and her role with assisting impacted students who have experienced bias on campus. Friedman states that after a bias incident is reported, it is reviewed by the appropriate staff member. The individual who filed the bias report will be contacted by someone in Director Friedman’s office. If necessary, faculty or other students will be included in that conversation.

Director Friedman shared how she is working with other campus departments in raising awareness of bias incidents and ways to better improve campus climate. 

This semester, there have been 44 reports and 39 incidents filed this semester. In the last week, there has been an increase in bias reports concerning the targeting of Asian and International students in the wake of recent events.

Director Friedman passed out literature that contained information regarding how to file a bias report in the Dean of Students Office. Reports may remain anonymous and are confidential.

The next special order was a presentation on the Campus Neighborhood Association by outgoing District 8 Alder Sally Rohrer, incoming District 8 Alder Max Prestigiacomo and ASM Press Office Director Matthew Mitnick.

Alder Rohrer shared how a Neighborhood Association is a grassroots group of neighbors, small-business / franchise owners, residents and community leaders that work together to positively impact their neighborhood. A Neighborhood Association hosts meetings, determines what the needs of the neighborhood are, creates newsletters, lobbies elected officials, advocates for specific projects, makes recommendations on developments and public works projects, hosts community building events, enforces zoning and city ordinances, holds developers accountable, and advocates for residents. 

Director Mitnick discussed the controversial 126 Langdon development, citing its lack of affordability. He shared how a Neighborhood Association could serve as a mechanism for elevating the student voice regarding such projects.

Max Prestigiacomo talked about sustaining the Campus Neighborhood Association, promising to engage the Capitol Neighborhood Association at each meeting, using the District 8 platform to share meetings and using the Campus Neighborhood Association to engage young people across all issues.

Chair Lampron mentioned virtual class time is a good time to send advocacy emails to staff, faculty, administration.

Representative Reilly appointed Lily to the Student Transportation Board (STB). With no objections, Lily has been appointed to STB

Chair Malloy announced that the City Clerk will be holding early voting for the spring primary this Thursday and Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday. Voting will take place in room 103 of the City-County Building. Voter ID’s are located in the WisCard Office.

Shared Governance appointments were approved unanimously.

Chair Pasbrig introduced the  Mental Health Services Advisory Board legislation, creating an advisory board for mental health service to provide students with more direct input.

The Mental Health Services Advisory Board was created with the primary task of advising both the Executive Director of UHS and the Director of Mental Health Services. It would be composed of 10 student members: two members of the SSFC, 1 liaison to the HCAC, one representative of the Badger Support Network, one representative of the National Alliance on Mental Illness - UW, two student employees appointed by the Executive Director of UHS and the Director of Mental Health Services, and three at-large representatives appointed by the Shared Governance Committee. This Advisory Board would convene at least once before the end of the semester, and continue to meet monthly during the academic year.

Chair Lampron motioned to suspend the rules to allow for a debate and a vote on this legislation. 

With a vote of 13-0-1, the legislation passes.

Director Mitnick introduced the Campus Neighborhood Association legislation.  

The legislation called for the revitalization of the State-Langdon Neighborhood Association and its expansion to South Campus properties in the City of Madison’s 8th Aldermanic District.

The City of Madison, the Associated Students of Madison, and all three relevant advocacy bodies would recommend the neighborhood association be titled the Campus Neighborhood Association. The Campus Neighborhood Association board would tentatively contain statutory representation from Greek Councils, a graduate student preferably with experience in urban planning and two ASM representatives. One of the ASM representatives would be designated by the Legislative Affairs Committee Chair and the other be appointed directly through the Shared Governance Committee process. ASM would support the student voice, but not directly administer the operations of the Campus Neighborhood Association. Further, ASM would not mandate the involvement of outside bodies, but rather approve outside board recommendations as a way of institutionalizing a formal leadership structure within the Campus Neighborhood Association. ASM would be amenable to alterations once the Campus Neighborhood Association convenes and develops its own bylaws. Finally, ASM Coordinating Council position descriptions would be updated accordingly.

Representative Resch motioned to introduce an amendment to remove the fourth “Therefore, be it resolved” clause. Representative Ben-Yitshak sent the amendment to Student Council.

With a vote of 11-0-3, the amendment passes.

With a vote of 12-0-2, the legislation passes.

Chair Downer introduced the Continuation of Operations Policy Paper, written in response to COVID-19’s impact on campus to allow for transition of leadership.

The full policy paper can be found in the meeting minutes, but it states, “Should UW – Madison choose to make changes to the operation of in-person classes and other normal campus activities in response to monitoring the spread of COVID-19, the Associated Students of Madison should be prepared to respond and continue operations. The purpose of this policy paper is to implement an emergency plan for conducting Student Council and committee meetings online, should in-person meetings reaching quorum become infeasible. e. These procedures shall apply only in circumstances arising as a direct result of COVID-19, and must first and foremost comply with all university policies and directives. These procedures shall continue into the 27th Session of ASM if needed.”

Chair Pasbrig moved to amend the last sentence on the page to include “branches of the ASM” in the last sentence.

With a vote of 13-0-1, the amendment passes.

With a vote of 13-0-1, the policy paper is approved and adopted.

Chair Pasbrig introduced the approval of the General Student Services Fund.

Chair Bosma asked about the zero funding of the Student Veterans of America (SVA). Chair Pasbrig outlined the SSFC’s justification to zero fund unanimously.

With a vote of 12-0-1, the legislation was approved.

Chair Downer re-introduced the Amnesty Through Responsible Action legislation. The legislation moves that ASM endorses the Amnesty Through Responsible Action Memo. Additionally, ASM calls for the implementation of an Amnesty Through Responsible Action program starting with Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) in Summer 2020. Additionally, ASM commits to continue to work with the Dean of Students Office, Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, University of Wisconsin Police Department, University Housing, and other campus stakeholders to develop and distribute educational materials on Amnesty Through Responsible Action to the student body. Finally, ASM calls on the City of Madison, City of Madison Police Department, and other city stakeholders to implement similar guidelines for off-campus areas. Finally, ASM calls on the State of Wisconsin to pass a statewide amnesty through responsible action law. 

Chair Downer shared that the only change to the legislation was the addition of Vice Chancellor Reesor’s signature and support.

With a vote of 13-0-1, the legislation passes.

Director Lammers re-introduced the Revision of the Campus Relations Committee bylaw amendment. This would revise the leadership structure of the Campus Relations Committee. It states that the Outreach Director and Press Office Director be elevated from co-vice chairs to co-chairs of the Campus Relations Committee. stressing it is making roles officials.

With a vote of 13-0-1, the legislation passes.

Based on the University of Wisconsin Madison’s decision to suspend the continuation of face-to-face instruction until at least April 10, the next Student Council meeting will tentatively be conducted online on March 25 at 6:30 p.m.

-- Associated Students of Madison: Matthew Mitnick