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SGA discuss mandatory testing, planned recreation center expansion with university administration

SGA discuss mandatory testing, planned recreation center expansion with university administration

SGA discuss mandatory testing, planned recreation center expansion with university administration
September 30
14:06 2021

Final updates on the university’s mandatory testing program and a possible expansion of the Pohl Recreation Center were discussed during Wednesday’s Student Government Association meeting.

Elizabeth With, senior vice president for Student Affairs, provided the final updates of the first phase of the mandatory COVID-19 testing program and details of the second voluntary testing phase.

President Neal Smatresk’s official notice provided details of the first phase of the mandatory testing program that ran from Aug. 16 to Sept. 20. The program ended with 38,275 participants that included faculty, staff and students.

The notice did not provide the number of people who opted out of the mandatory program. With told the senate around 427 employees and 7,988 students did not participate in the program.

Smatresk announced on Sept. 8 that individuals will face severe consequences if they did not participate in the program. On the same day, With also told the senate there will be consequences if a student does not take or report the mandatory COVID-19 test.

At Wednesday’s senate meeting, With contradicted these previous statements regarding consequences for individuals who did not participate in the mandatory program. An email will be sent to the individual who did not participate that will only address the person’s absence from the program.

“There’s no consequences to anybody, not to employees, not to students,” With said.

With told the senate the voluntary second phase of COVID-19 testing protocols will officially begin Monday.

Every two weeks, a randomized computer program will select 1,800 students and 200 campus employees who will be notified of their voluntary testing via email. The selection will include both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

The voluntary testing period will end during the last week of the fall 2021 semester. Officials will decide later on if the university will continue a COVID-19 testing program for spring 2022.

“We’re going to encourage [people] to [get tested] on campus,” With said. “That’s the easiest way to do it, but they can still do it off campus.”

Alongside some Pohl Recreation Center employees, With told the SGA senate the university is about to begin working on a plan to renovate and expand the recreation center.

The first step will be to have campus officials and students identify what reasonable renovation and additions are needed. The university will then decide what funds and costs are needed.

“We’re looking at identifying a group to come on campus that will work with us to help walk through the process,” With said. “We certainly will have students involved in that process, likely representatives.”

The possible renovation comes at a time when the university is about to pay off the bond that was used for the creation of the recreation center.

Jacqueline Sanchez Martinez, a senator of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, asked whether an all-female gym hour will be added, stating that it can be uncomfortable for women, female-presenting and nonbinary individuals to be in a male-dominated gym.

Wendy Comfort, associate director of fitness and memberships for the Pohl Recreation Center, said she did not know if a female hour will be added, but said the center does offer different programming options that are more inclusive to individuals who are not comfortable in the center.

“Keep an eye out for what we have coming in the spring semester because with our intramurals, we’re working on updating some policies [and] we are looking at adding some additional programming,” Comfort said.

Ben Hanisian, marketing and communications assistant director for the Pohl Recreation Center, wants to encourage more students to visit the recreation center and participate in intramural sports. Hanisian said some students have not been able to visit and experience the recreation center since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We basically have three years, three classes of students who have not been able to truly visit and experience the rec center,” Hanisian said.

Featured Image: SGA Vice President David Muñoz-Sarabia presents his executive report to the senate during a meeting on Sept. 22, 2021. Photo by John Anderson

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Juan Betancourt

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