On Wednesday, April 23, 2021 at 9:30 p.m. CST, the Illinois Tech Student Government Association (SGA) held their weekly Senate meeting. SGA Executive Vice President Keru Omad led the session. This was the first Senate meeting under the newly elected SGA executive board for 2020-21. For a recording of the meeting, go to https://bit.ly/32GuzBO.
Guest Speaker: Peter Kilpatrick
Illinois Tech Provost Peter Kilpatrick came to the Senate session to speak about COVID-19 vaccines in 2021. He was asked in a meeting the week prior to talk about how the university has weathered the pandemic and what will happen next semester with the vaccine. “We’ve done exceedingly well [compared to other schools],” said Provost Kilpatrick. Illinois Tech has only had a single modest cluster at one of the Greek houses over the past year. Cumulatively, roughly 1 percent of all students have tested positive for Coronavirus. In February 2021, Illinois Tech had applied to become a vaccination site, but the state had apparently lost their application and so the school had to resubmit. The university has identified a few options for vaccination. Everyone is eligible for vaccination no matter the identification or visa status. Illinois Tech has found a healthcare provider to partner with, and will be distributing vaccinations to anyone on campus.
Currently the school administration is debating on whether vaccination should be required for all returning and new students or just strongly recommended for everyone. Potential reasons for not getting vaccinated may be due to being immunocompromised, pregnancy, or religious reasons. Kilpatrick said he thinks it’s best to only strongly encourage people to vaccinate, and that the voluntary method will be easier to work with. If 90 percent of people can voluntarily get vaccine, Illinois Tech will be willing to only make the vaccination strongly required.
When Illinois Tech achieves Phase 5, which has very specific requirements as posted on the IDPH website, the restrictions on student life and on-campus activities should be very minimal. It is unclear as to if there will be requirements for face masks, as the school is currently thinking that by August that most requirements will be gone.
When asked about how students will be held accountable regarding vaccination, Provost Kilpatrick replied, “Many people I’ve talked to are entirely willing to get a vaccine voluntarily. In addition, we entirely believe that the cases where people will lie about this are limited. In addition, the school can validate through scanning their vaccination card. If this plan doesn’t work by mid-May, then we will reevaluate our plan.”
Senator swearing-in: Trinity Martin
Last week, the Senate approved a new Senator named Trinity Martin to represent the Residence Hall Association. Martin was sworn in as the new RHA Senator by Omad.
Legacy Admissions - Open Letter by Ben Barber
SGA was contacted by a group in Stanford University who are trying to organize against the idea of Legacy admissions, which basically mean that if your family went to a certain university, you get a higher chance of admission in said university. Illinois Tech does not do Legacy Admissions, but it was agreed that the school should attempt to support the hashtag on social media and other platforms. This is mainly to prevent extreme cases where a student who is not qualified for a university might be admitted simply because of their parents, unlike a general student who got in on their own merit. Director of Campus Life Rachel Hirsh: had a conversation with SGA President Ben Barber before about this and has had to deny/admit legacy admissions. Illinois Tech does not consider the legacy when admitting someone.
Finance Board Chair Chloe Rubinowicz reported that there have been issues with Presence but they will be pushed soon. Finance Board office hours are now no longer taking place for the rest of the semester. Fall hearing dates should be posted by the end of the semester
Next, VP of Events Ryan Manthy said he and the Events committee are planning the End of Year Banquet for SGA.
VP of Communications Shahaan Mirza is planning and organizing for next semester’s Communications committee. He also asked senators to join his committee if interested.
VP of Student Life Sameer Sheikh spoke about a recent meeting with Campus Life and SHI where they discussed campus health concerns after the Norovirus outbreak and food poisoning issue that happened recently. Dean Stetz has been speaking with IIT Dining about the food poisoning and the immediate response was to quarantine the students. The Commons was closed due to this event and they had a deep cleaning, and the school also cleaned Global Grounds and Center Court. As of right now, all students have recovered and been released from quarantine. Sheikh also asked for interest from anyone to do SGA TechNews coverage and write articles summarizing the SGA meetings. This is probably going to be my last SGA-related article for a while. –Sameer
VP of Academic Affairs Sandy Orozco had a meeting with Academic Resource Center Director Rama Madhurapantula, who wanted to increase student success. Orozco is trying to increase the bond between SGA and ARC and trying to overall prepare the student body better. A COVID Study Day is happening on April 30th, and no classes are supposed to take place.
Executive Vice President Keru Omad reminded all senators to go to their respective committee meetings.
SGA President Ben Barber spoke about Senate elections and said he is planning to talk about how Senate Election Voting works with more specificity in the future. He expects to discuss the next Chief Justice as well.
Campus Administration representative Rachel Hirsh congratulated all of the Talon Award Winners and thanked everyone who attended. Next week is the Self Care Week, and a few events should be put together. Tuesday is going to be a coffee bar in the Commons. Wednesday is Denim Day, and Thursday is all about stress. You can make your own stress ball to end out the semester! On Friday there should be a movie presenting. These events will be sponsored by Xfinity
Senatorial candidate Jason Scott asked students to consider staying at Illinois Tech over the summer. The school needs around 45 more people in order to open the Commons over the summer.