SGA recommends canceling in-person classes after Thanksgiving

At this week’s meeting, SGA discussed the University’s decision to continue in-person classes after Thanksgiving break.

With a rise of COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, SGA plans to ask the administration to make all classes currently held on campus remote after Thanksgiving.

President Olivia Beverlie said according to Glenn Cochran, associate dean of students and director of residence life, six out of seven students on campus plan to travel home for Thanksgiving break.

“He [Cochran] only expects 100 resident students to actually be staying on campus for Thanksgiving, and that’s a generous estimate,” Beverlie said.

SGA also urged students who do travel home for Thanksgiving to remain home.

An email sent to students on Nov. 17 from Meg Nowak Borrego, dean of students, stated the campus will remain open during Thanksgiving break and encouraged resident students to stay on campus.

The resolution proposed by SGA advocates keeping the campus and residence halls open for students who need them even if in-person classes are moved online.

Beverlie said the University is aware of SGA’s petition.

“This is just us urging the University to take a step in the right direction, and also urging professors who can make the decision on their own,” Beverlie said.

“I’m hoping that us doing this will convince Dr. Zimmerman [interim provost] and President Cevallos to send a message out to faculty strongly advising” they hold their classes remotely following Thanksgiving break, Beverlie added.

SGA added an amendment to their resolution asking professors to accommodate students who do not feel comfortable returning to campus after Thanksgiving and not to penalize in-person absences. 

A second amendment was added to the resolution urging professors to make all materials for their in-person courses available online if they are adamantly against canceling in-person classes.

Vice President Abigail Salvucci said, “Professors should already have a game plan for this. If a professor can’t make it work for three weeks, they should have had a better game plan going into the COVID semester.”

The resolution was passed 14 to 1. The document was sent to Zimmerman, Cevallos, and the Dean of Students office.

Beverlie spoke during new business about a special committee for general education approved by the All University Committee (AUC). 

“AUC created a separate committee and is looking for student representatives to discuss changing the general education system,” she added.

AUC wants the new committee to come up with a plan for the general education system by April 15 so members can vote on it.

This new committee, chaired by Amanda Simons, biology professor, is looking for students passionate about changing the general education system or adding certain domains, according to Beverlie.

Beverlie attended the COVID-19 analytics team meeting last week to discuss the COVID-19 case numbers in Massachusetts compared to Framingham State’s.

“The Commonwealth recently made changes in how the threshold is viewed for COVID-19 cases. A color-coded map is used to view these thresholds – green being good and red being high risk,” Beverlie said.

If the county is red on the map, that county has more positive COVID-19 cases. If the county is green, the county is at a lower risk.

Counties that used to be in the red are now green because of the threshold for numbers. “It seems like we’re doing better as a state, but we really aren’t,” Beverlie said.

“I don’t want people to think they can get comfortable,” said Beverlie. “This was just done so that schools can open back up,” she added.

Beverlie said, “In terms of how it affects Framingham State in general, we haven’t made any measures to loosen up anything.”

 Beverlie also spoke about a meeting with Constanza Cabello, vice president of diversity, inclusion, and community engagement.

“One of the things we talked about is SGA co-sponsoring a letter with the Faculty Against Hate. During Administrators’ Forum, a big problem that was ignored was the transphobia that occurs on our campus,” Beverlie said.

She added, “The letter would be a list of professors who support trainings and workshops around being anti-racist, anti-homophobic, and anti-transphobic.”

Beverlie said, “That’s going to be done next semester, probably because it’s going to take some time to get together.”

Student Trustee McKenzie Ward discussed what she will be bringing up at the Board of Trustees Meeting on Nov. 18.

Ward said she would inform the Board of Trustees about the resolution SGA passed advocating that Columbus Day be recognized as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

“Other things being discussed during the Board of Trustees Meeting are new appointments in SGA and what work they have been doing for anti-racism and anti-homophobia,” she said.

Executive board members spoke about what committees they are a part of on campus, and what they are currently working on.

Salvucci, who is chair of the Student Advisory Committee, said, “The committee is broken up into two different sectors: passion projects around campus and revising our constitutional paperwork and our bylaws.

“Right now, we are focusing on passion projects, which include the anti-racism, anti-homophobia, and anti-transphobia work, as well as working on our funding paperwork,” she added.

“I’m trying to encourage my committee to find projects that SGA can fund themselves and bring to the higher offices and say, ‘We want to do this’ because we should. We have the money to, so why not?’” she said.

SGA is also preparing for Big Budget next semester. This is when student organizations go to SGA to have their budgets approved for the next academic year. 

Big Budget will take place on Feb. 19, said Ewnie Fedna, student activities trust fund treasurer. 

Mariah Farris, the outreach and events coordinator, said, “We chat about fundraising events and things that we can do for the school to keep the engagement and morale going.

“We do have fundraising forms being mailed to me – they are cookies and pretzel rods at the moment, so that’s going to be our fundraiser for Winter break,” Farris said.

At the meeting, Ward volunteered to assist SGA Advisor Sara Gallegos on an SGA newsletter.

Gallegos also introduced the new organization called The Investment Club. “They should be ready to go by next week,” she said. 

Gallegos said Student Involvement and Leadership Development (SILD) is trying to “boost the Sam the Ram social media.

“Sam’s charge for the rest of the semester, and probably the year, is going to be more motivational as opposed to showing up at events,” she added.

During the Open Forum, Senators Emily Rosenberg, Eryca Carrier, and Mark Haskell raised concerns with the Dining Hall and Dining Services. 

Rosenberg said, “I noticed the dining hall has been playing Fox News on their TVs. I think the Dining Hall should be playing more impartial or non-extreme news sources if they’re going to be playing something on their TV.”

Carrier said she believes there is a lack of communication between the students and Dining Services about some of the changes that are being made. 

She said due to the changes, the food took longer than usual to be prepared. 

“I had to order food and I couldn’t pick it up until an hour and a half after I ordered it because it didn’t come out and then I had a meeting,” she said.

Haskell said, “The Dining Services should consider having the weekend to possibly experiment on new food ideas and at least give enough time for them [the dining staff] to prepare.”

Also during Open Forum, Senator Hillary Nna said she would like to increase the number of sanitizing stations in Hemenway Hall.