Illustration by Amelia Madarang

Deans visit ASLC senate, discuss COVID-19 issues

The Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC) Senate convened on March 30 for a forum with Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Bruce Suttmeier and Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students Robin Holmes-Sullivan.

During the forum a significant number of students asked about vaccinations. Holmes-Sullivan said LC will be holding a vaccine clinic on April 10 for those who are already eligible, with other clinics possible later on. The college plans to release more information about a possible vaccine mandate in the coming weeks.

According to Suttmeier, LC continues to monitor the pandemic worldwide, noting that some regions, including parts of Europe, have reinstituted strict lockdowns. LC will inform the 120 students currently registered for fall study overseas whether their programs will run as planned on June 1. Students will have a month to choose to study overseas in the fall or opt for a spring program instead. They are also required to sign up for fall classes at LC in case their programs are canceled.

Summer classes at LC will follow the same format as spring classes, with the majority of courses offered in an online format. 

“We wanted to make (summer classes) more available to students who need to be home or need to be somewhere for a job, but also want to take classes,” Suttmeier said. “A few of them are hybrid, but all of them are flexible for students who want to take those.” 

While LC is preparing for a summer marked by continuing pandemic-related restrictions, the college plans to return to in-person instruction during fall term. 

Holmes-Sullivan said that LC is planning to return to pre-pandemic normalcy in the academic and social life it offers, so long as Oregon state laws allow it. However, she recognized that lifting restrictions will not undo the difficulties and challenges everyone faced during the pandemic. Many high school students who will be entering college this fall are suffering from intense anxiety after spending their senior year learning remotely, and they feel unprepared academically.

“We’re going to have a very anxious first year group,” Holmes-Sullivan said. “And then we have a rising sophomore group that has a lot of feelings about the fact that they missed out on so much of their first year.”  

Suttmeier and Holmes-Sullivan acknowledged that the psychological effects of the pandemic will continue. They encouraged the community to take care of one another. 

“This whole past year is a kind of loss that needs to be mourned and processed,” Suttmeier said.

After the forum, a bill was brought to the floor. Student Organizations Chair (SOC) Quentin Gaul ’22, Treasurer Sam Daer ’21 and Senator Josie Stenzel ’24 wrote a bill to replace the SOC and Finance Committee bylaws with a new ordinance to combine the two committees. The exact duties of the SOC and treasurer in the new combined committee are yet to be determined. There will be five senators on the new committee, instead of three on both previous committees.

“It’s been a little bit confusing,” Gaul said. “Sometimes students aren’t really sure where to go, not really sure who should be in charge of what kind of thing … Sam and I’ve been talking about how to combine the two committees, because that just makes a lot more sense.”

Vice President Jeremiah Koshy ’21 said that the bill would consolidate some responsibilities of the two committees.

“It’s kind of this weird thing because the Student Organizations Committee allocates money, but the treasurer handles the actual money,” Koshy said. “It works out that one person’s job is to just give you money and the other person’s job was to actually take the money from the account.”

The bill passed with a unanimous vote and will go into effect after this semester ends.

Following the de facto resignation of Arunima Jamwal ’21 as SAAB chair, Ela Pencl ’21 and HC Nowatka ’22 will take on the chair’s duties for the rest of spring semester. Pencl had already been acting unofficially in the interim role, and Nowatka had previously been a SAAB director and volunteered to help. Both were confirmed by senators through a vote. 

“With the help of Mikah, we kind of got access to all the responsibilities of the SAAB chair and we split them amongst each other,” Pencl said. “I think it’s gonna be all good, and we’re looking forward to finding a SAAB Chair for next year.”

The Senate is still searching for applicants for the SAAB chair for the 2021-22 academic year and has waived previous requirements for the position in order to encourage more students to apply. 

As a result of Jamwal’s resignation, members of the senate will submit information to Chief Justice Jacques Parker ’23 about the responsibilities and hours of their roles. This information will be used to generate updated job descriptions for the roles within the senate and is meant to clarify expectations and pay before officials assume responsibility in their roles.

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