SGA demands changes to green checkmark compliance in weekly meeting

“The system is flawed, and the administration is relying on this system heavily”

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(Nina Walat/Daily Collegian)

By Alex Genovese, Collegian Staff

At the Student Government Association’s weekly meeting, which occurred this week on Monday due to the Wellness Wednesday programming by the University of Massachusetts, the Senate urged the school to change its policy on testing compliance.

According to a message from Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs John McCarthy, “If a student cannot prove that they are in compliance by showing the instructor their Green Checkmark or refuses to show the Green Checkmark, the instructor can and should prevent the student from participating in the in-person activity.”

UMass also said that students could be denied access to online learning tools, such as Moodle or Blackboard, for falling out of compliance.

At the meeting, the SGA demanded that “the University not take away access to remote classes for students out of compliance with the testing protocol.”

They also asked that “in-person course instructors not be required to check the green checkmark in order to allow students into their classroom as it forces them to break social distancing and green check marks are not reliable.”

Finally, the SGA demanded the check marks not be used to grant access into dining halls.

“There was no consultation with us around this,” said Sonya Epstein, the SGA president. “[Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy] even said in a meeting today that this was a decision he made on his own,” they continued.

“There were student complaints that lines have been really long already at dining halls,” said Secretary of University Policy Sara McKenna. “I think we’ve already heard from a few people that there have been clusters of people trying to pull up their check marks as they’re going in and out […] and we don’t want those clusters of people gathering.”

“The system is flawed, and the administration is relying on this system so heavily,” said Chair of the Administrative Affairs committee Kyle Kendall.

The list of demands passed unanimously.

The SGA also asked the school to change the rules regarding noise complaints for music practice.

The motion noted that due to the self-sequestering of students in their dorm rooms, it was increasingly difficult for music and dance students to practice. Additionally, once the University downgraded to an elevated operational procedure, students who were practicing continued to get reprimanded for noise complaints due to not being able to go to the Fine Arts Center.

According to the motion, when the UMass Provost’s Office tried to negotiate with Residential Life, “Residential Life only yielded 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. everyday as a permissible time for students to practice.”

“This has been something that’s been ongoing since the beginning of the semester,” noted Speaker Julia Fox. “The intention of this motion is to bring to light how this is disproportionately affecting students of music and dance.”

“The ability to practice is truly the equivalent of studying for an exam,” noted Gilbert Wermeling, a master’s student in the music and dance department and a member of the Graduate Student Senate.

The SGA voted to urge UMass to widen the window for practicing in the, to stop discipline for students practicing in their dorms and to “proactively engage with those departments and programs in which the quality of education is being disproportionately affected, and negotiate ways in which in-person instruction can be conducted in a safe manner.”

“This will not only cover music majors. This also covers music minors, and also non music majors,” said Charles Hsueh, a master’s student in Music who was one of the drafters of the motion.

The motion passed unanimously.

Finally, Chair Kendall introduced a discussion regarding the College Republicans and their concerns regarding the SGA and UMass response about COVID-19. Elijah Zeh, the President of UMass College Republicans, explained the RSO’s concerns about students’ struggles with COVID-19, specifically quarantining and student employment. Additionally, he urged UMass to open the Recreation Center and allow for pod socialization.

Many Senators and College Republican members discussed partnering to work on the issue. Nicholas Koutouvidis, another member of the College Republicans, described how a friend of his was removed from his dorm due to having two other students in his dorm room, resulting in them now sleeping on another friend’s couch.

The SGA decided to reach out to other RSOs and groups to have a concrete statement to be released next week.

Alex Genovese can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @alex_genovese1.

 

Correction: Charles Hsueh’s title was corrected to “a master’s student in Music who was one of the drafters of the motion.”