Faculty Senate Minutes 2020-09-14

Minutes approved October 05, 2020

Recordings:

Transcripts (will be linked here when available)

Chancellor Rebecca Blank called the online meeting to order at 3:33 p.m. with 149 voting members present (113 needed for quorum.)

Chancellor Blank acknowledged that the semester is not off to the start than anyone wanted. The number of positive tests and the rate of increase in positive tests has been faster than anticipated and faster than our peers. People are upset and worried about the trend. They have taken the following actions: quarantine multiple fraternity and sorority houses, asked undergraduate students to limit in person interactions, two week shift to virtual learning, imposed restrictions on Sellery and Witte halls for two weeks and have worked to quickly test specific populations that are at a significant risk of being infected. This testing is likely to continue to increase the number of positive tests.

The Chancellor reiterated that she believes opening campus this fall was the right decision. In person instruction is a better way for most students to learn. Many students had plans to be in Madison regardless of the mode of instruction. An open campus gives students structure, ability to access some services in person, and access to COVID testing. The hybrid model of instruction UW-Madison is following is the same as virtually all our peers. On campus safety protocols seem to be working as evidenced by no workplace or classroom transmission that is known. 

The university has administered 30,000 COVID tests so far and has provided the results of those tests plus off campus testing via a public dashboard that is updated daily.

Student affairs staff and UWPD have been walking through the Langdon neighborhood at night reminding students of the health protocols of social distancing and mask wearing. There have been and will continue to be consequences for students who do not follow UW-Madison rules. There are currently over 380 students being investigated for not following rules and UW-Madison is reviewing 12 students for emergency suspension.  

The Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory will begin analyzing tests this coming week. There is also a new rapid test system that will begin in partnership as a research project with UW-Madison faculty. Additional contract tracers will be hired.

The next two weeks will be critical to see if numbers of positive cases come down. UW-Madison administration will continue to monitor the data, meet with local officials and consult with UW System and the Board of Regents.   

Chancellor Blank and other campus leadership addressed questions about Smart Restart and the campus response to COVID-19.

Senate recessed at 4:31 pm

Senate called back in session at 4:36 pm

Kirsten Wolf presented the Proposal to Adjust the Spring Semester 2021 Academic Calendar (Faculty document 2895). The change would move the start of the semester back by nearly a week and remove spring break. Spring break would be replaced by no class held on Saturday, March 27 and a long weekend that begins with no class on Friday, April 2 and school resuming on April 5. There were a few questions and comments. The change passed by a vote of 140-6.

The meeting adjourned at 5:00 pm.

Heather Daniels
Secretary of the Faculty