The Ithaca College Student Governance Council (SGC) met with Rosanna Ferro, vice president for student affairs and campus life, passed two bills and confirmed one member at its March 1 meeting.
Ferro answered questions from the SGC about campus life and different COVID-19 restrictions on campus. As of March 1, there are four active student cases at the college — one residential and three off campus. Students are still required to get tested twice a week and follow other COVID-19 protocols like wearing masks and social distancing.
Sophomore Lila Wieser, senator-at-large, asked Ferro about how the college was doing in terms of COVID regulations and compliance.
Ferro said the college was doing well and was working on a phased approach to slowly ease restrictions. She noted the recent lift of restrictions in residence halls and the announcement about sports resuming. As of March 15, students will be allowed to visit other rooms on their floors in residence halls, with a limit of one guest per resident.
“We’re confident that students are going to continue to do the right thing,” Ferro said. “But this is all going to be a matter of feedback. If this does not go well, we are going to have to pull back.”
Junior Leticia Guibunda, international senator, asked Ferro for clarification about the different disciplinary categories that are used for students violating COVID-19 regulations.
The sanctioning guidelines for not following the college’s COVID-19 regulations are divided into three categories: violations of college policies, egregious and intentional violations of college policies and violations by student organizations. Each category has three sub-categories, related to first, second and third violations.
A first violation of college policies, like not following daily screen requirements, could result in a written warning. A first violation for an egregious act, like holding a mass gathering, could result in deferred suspension.
Ferro said she was nervous after seeing other colleges suspending hundreds of students for COVID-19 related violations in the fall. In September, 21 cases at Cornell University were linked to social gatherings. More recently in February, SUNY Cortland disciplined and suspended students after more than 75 people were caught partying maskless.
Ferro said she has been communicating with students about COVID-19 guidelines because she wants students to be well informed.
“We made it our priority to share a lot of information,” Ferro said. “I’m sure all of you got tired of my emails and at the all-student gatherings and explaining and explaining and explaining, because what I didn’t want was students coming into a situation where they didn’t know any better.”
Senior Connor Shea, president of the SGC, and sophomore Deontae Guy, vice president of communications, both asked for clarification regarding the anonymity of the Community Agreement Reporting Form.
The form was created by the college in order to provide Ithaca community members an opportunity to inform the college of concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ferro said that the form is not anonymous because the college knows who is reporting but that information is typically not shared with the parties involved in the incidents.
She said there are some cases in which the identity of the reporter is revealed, similar to other judicial processes at the college. Ferro also explained that there are cases in which the college does not have access to certain information, like students’ social media, so students want to know where they received that information about violations from.
“I know that the more egregious acts that we did actually go through more recently, I know that that was a point of contention because we wanted to protect the reporter, but the students and their family were pretty upset and wanted to kind of verify [it],” Ferro said.
The SGC passed the Student Governance Council Website Manual Act with a vote of 18–0 and no abstentions. The manual was created by sophomore Austin Ruffino, senator-at-large, and outlines the process of maintaining the SGC website. The bill was sponsored by Ruffino and Shea.
The SGC also passed the SGC Website Upkeep Amendment with a vote of 17–0 with one abstention. The bill amends the SGC Constitution to include a section describing the job duties of the SGC Website Manager, including maintaining the upkeep of the website and updating relevant information, like social media links. Ruffino and Shea also sponsored the bill.
The SGC also confirmed freshman Calli Reed to the Appropriations Committee, the group that allocates funds to student organizations, with a vote of 18–0 with no abstentions.
Reed ran on a platform that emphasized her interest in budgeting and finance. She said she had experience working on the theater arts management team and recently added an accounting minor.
Reed said she has taken classes remotely for the academic year and could bring a remote perspective to the committee.
Ruffino asked Reed if she had any ideas for marketing events to the student body. Reed said she would encourage student organizations to use social media to help promote their events.