September 19, 2021
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SGC discusses COVID-19 and end-of-the-year celebrations

The Ithaca College Student Governance Council (SGC) discussed COVID-19 safety nearing the end of the spring semester and passed one bill at its April 5 meeting. 

The SGC met with Eileen Harrington Roth, off-campus community living coordinator, and Katie Newcomb, assistant director for the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, to talk about COVID-19 safety and awareness nearing end-of-the-year celebrations, like Kendall Day and Commencement. 

Kendall Day is a block party on Kendall Avenue to celebrate the end of the academic year. Students hold the event annually on the Saturday prior to finals week in May, which this year is May 8. Newcomb said that typically hundreds of students gather at off-campus locations and at parties with community members and sometimes students from Cornell University. 

Roth said the offices of Residential Life and Student Conduct and Community Standards are working on sending out proactive messaging through social media accounts about COVID-19 safety during the end of the semester. She also gave examples of what would happen if the events were not adjusted to follow COVID-19 guidelines, especially Kendall Day.

“Typically, it can take a few days for someone to show up as positive,” Roth said. “We would probably start to see a spike on the 12th or the 13th. So that would put students in isolation for their move-out. It would also potentially put them in isolation for all of the Senior Week events as well.” 

Roth said she wanted to make students aware of the potential consequences that could impact not only the college but the local community. She said an outbreak of cases could put a strain on the Tompkins County Health Department and risk not having enough hospital spaces or COVID-19 tests for local community members. She also said Senior Week activities could be canceled or moved online, and students living on campus would have delayed move-out processes if they had to isolate. 

According to the college’s COVID Dashboard, the college currently has three active cases — one residential student, one off-campus student and one staff member. As of April 6, Tompkins County has 113 active cases and 3,980 positive cases since March 2020. 

Newcomb said the college does not host Kendall Day, so it cannot officially cancel it but would encourage students to change how it has typically gone in the past. 

“Everything about that event would go against the policies we have in place right now for COVID,” Newcomb said. “And so, all the messaging we’re going to be sending out is really, ‘This event is not okay and not in line with our policies’. And really just making sure that there’s lots of alternatives. There’s lots of ways to be safe and still spend time with your friends and enjoy the nice weather without potentially having all of these risks.”

The SGC also passed the Executive Board Attendance Policy Amendment with a vote of 14–0 with no abstentions. 

The bill amends a new section following Article V, Section 3 of the SGC Constitution to include an attendance policy for the executive board of the SGC. The policy states that executive board members are allowed a maximum of three unexcused absences per semester, and if they have more, they will be dismissed from the SGC and not allowed to serve until the following semester. 

The bill was sponsored by senior Connor Shea, president of the SGC, and co-sponsored by freshman Mely Megahed Ramadan, senator-at-large; senior Jasmine Morrow, Class of 2021 senator; senior Abigail Murtha, senate chair; senior Alexandria DeVita, chief of staff; sophomore Grace Madeya, vice president of business and finance; senior Yetunde Smalls, vice president of campus affairs; sophomore Deontae Guy, vice president of communications; and sophomore Soumyaa Joshi, vice president of academic affairs.  

Shea said the SGC did not have an attendance policy for the executive board but did have one in place for the senate. The policy is the same as the one put in place for the senate.  

“There’s some accountability that can be here, you can hold us accountable the same way we hold you accountable for coming to our meetings,” Shea said. “Because we know how important attendance is at these meetings.”

The SGC tabled the Student Organization Bill Sponsorship & Elections Endorsements Amendment with a vote of 10–4. The bill was centered around student organizations involvement in bills passed by the SGC and endorsing candidates for SGC elections. 

The bill was sponsored by sophomore Austin Ruffino, senator-at-large, and co-sponsored by Madeya. 

Syd Pierre can be reached at spierre@ithaca.edu