OUSC holds September concerns forum

Lauren Reid, Staff Reporter

Oakland University Student Congress (OUSC) hosted a virtual student concerns forum via Google Meet on Tuesday, Sept. 15 to answer electronically submitted questions, with representatives from a variety of different offices including the Dean of Students, Recreation and Wellbeing, the Office of Student Involvement (OSI), among others. 

Many inquiries centered around the ever changing topic of COVID-19, with questions on potential on-campus outbreaks, winter semester class format and punishment for parties or events held without COVID-19 protective measures. 

“There is an Infection Prevention and Control Committee that talks about [potential outbreaks] on a weekly basis,” Dean of Students Michael Wadsworth said. “They have established certain parameters and benchmarks to watch for, so there is a decision process that would occur [in regard to the number of COVID-19 cases] that would be ongoing.” 

OU has also launched a COVID-19 Dashboard to be updated weekly, displaying the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in faculty and staff, as well as students living on and off campus. As of Sept. 14, OU had 26 positive cases since July 12. 

University Housing Director Jim Zentmeyer weighed in on potential outbreaks from the housing end, saying “information and communication are really at the core.” 

“In the residence halls, we are trying to be as nimble and agile as possible with regard to any reports that we receive so we can minimize exposure be it through isolation, quarantine, etc.” Zentmeyer said. “[We are] trying to keep whatever issues occur on campus as small as possible and have as limited of an impact as possible so that we can extend the success of the balance of the population.” 

Housing has also implemented new cleaning measures to ensure student safety — high touch areas are sanitized multiple times a day and community used bathrooms are cleaned twice a day, as mentioned by Zentmeyer. 

When it comes to the winter 2021 semester, Interim Associate Provost and Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Anne Hitt mentioned the schedule is being worked on as far as mode of delivery, and students should have more information around November. 

“We’d like to have a pretty firm schedule by the end of October, beginning of November,” Hitt said. “There are over 3,000 classes per term and we have to figure out which ones [will be] online or hybrid and which will have rooms, and then enter those into the database.” 

As far as holding students and organizations accountable for disregarding protective measures, Wadsworth mentioned it will be handled much like any other student conduct issue.

“If [the issue] is in regard to public health issues, not wearing masks, doing things that put people at risk, then we will process that through our student code of conduct,” Wadsworth said. “The only way we are going to make it through this year is if we all take care of each other, so we do have to monitor and take this very seriously.”

Other questions surrounded topics of financial aid, community engagement, enrollment, mental health amid online classes and the implementation of the BioButton (currently on hold). 

Near the forum’s end, Senior Director of the OSI, Jean Ann Miller, wanted to give a “positive shoutout” to the OU community.

“For the last two weeks, [students] have been wearing masks and social distancing, and we need to give some positive shoutouts to OU students for doing their part and keeping us safe,” Miller said. 

To keep up with the OUSC, those interested can check out their homepage on GrizzOrgs or the OU website.