The Ithaca College Student Governance Council (SGC) passed its first bill of the semester — the Employee Vaccination Bill — and met with Luca Maurer, director of the Center for LGBT Education, Outreach and Services, who went over the resources on campus for LGBT+ students at its Sept. 13 meeting.
The SGC passed the Employee Vaccination Bill with a vote of 5–1 with no abstentions. While all students are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for the fall semester, employees are currently not required to be, instead having to turn in proof of a negative COVID test. The bill recommends that the college make it a requirement that employees be vaccinated.
The bill also suggests that the college should continue to use paid–time–off for vaccination recovery and similar tools to incentivize vaccinations. It also states that the college should continue to require masking, regular testing and social distancing for members of the community who have medical and religious exemptions for the vaccine.
The bill was sponsored by juniors Lila Weiser, senator-at-large; Grace Madeya, class of 2023 senator; Sara Ostermeier and senior Becca Emery.
The bill was co-sponsored by freshmen Laura Alvaro and Madeline Tran; sophomores Kellen Ko and Krista Sullivan; juniors Leonardo Amaral, Erin Bevan, Andrew Hyland, Oscar Izenson, Emma Johansen, Kayla Joyce, Khami Auerbach, Josie Mastropierro, Emmie Morgan, Nick Traficante, Olivia Merryman, Anna Nicchitta, Kionna Pannazzo, Mark Puskey, Em Reynolds, Lindsay Sayer, Hannah Schultz, Gabrielle Shapiro, Reilly Shingler, Alexandra Stewart and Laura Van Voris; seniors Sonia Alfandre, Kristian Labrie, Casey Miller, Sarah Moon and Tatum Siegel.
Keeley Firinne ‘21, lent her support and the bill had faculty support from assistant professors of music performance Dan Coakwell, Martha Guth, Alison Wahl and professor of music performance Wendy Mehne, all of whom are co-sponsors.
Weiser gave a brief overview of the bill, explaining how the lack of vaccinated employees poses a safety risk to the campus community.
“A fifth of current IC employees are still unvaccinated,” Weiser said. “We only have an 80% vaccination rate [for employees]. Basically, our resolution is that we want to require employee vaccinations.”
Weiser said much of the support for the bill comes from students who feel uncomfortable with there being such a high rate of non-vaccination among employees.
Madeya said she has had students reach out to her with similar concerns.
“I just see a lot of urgency with this bill from the standpoint that I have many classmates tell me that they are uncomfortable in the classroom because of this,” Madeya said. “And especially because we don’t have a hybrid option, it adds an extra [discomfort] to this.”
Sophomore Nick Viggiani, Class of 2024 senator, said he acknowledges that this is a student issue, but he also said the bill qualifies as an employee issue.
“I have no issue with recommending a mandate, I just think we should talk to faculty [about the recommendation],” Viggiani said.
Junior Soumyaa Joshi, School of Humanities and Sciences senator, said the bill is a recommendation to the college.
“We’re not forcing anyone to do this,” Joshi said. “We are student representatives, we are making this statement on behalf of students. We are presenting that … whether or not they accept that is not our problem. We are advocating on behalf of the students.”
After an extended discussion, the SGC passed the bill.
The SGC also met with Maurer to go over the resources on campus for LGBTQ students, both in the center itself and beyond. The LGBT Center is now located in Towers Concourse, Suite 110 with an upcoming open house in the first week of October. The center offers training workshops on a variety of LGBT issues, referrals for LGBTQ concerns and campus-wide LGBTQ-themed education programs and social events.
Maurer highlighted independent, student-run LGBTQ clubs, the two largest being Spectrum and Prism. He also told the SGC about an upcoming third club for queer students of faith to discuss issues that intersect with their various identities.
“My goal, personally and professionally, for the LGBTQ Center … is that this institution has everything in place so that LGBTQ students can do what they want and need to do, and never have to think about processes or practices or policies,” Maurer said. “That they can just be IC students much like some heterosexual-cisgender students [and] don’t have to think … about their sexual or gender identity, they just get to be students. What I want is for all of our students to be able to do that.”