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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Faculty Senate meets with President’s Academic Advisory Group

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At its Sep.1 meeting, Faculty Senate met with President Denise Trauth, Texas State Chief Medical Officer Dr. Emilio Carranco and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Gene Bourgeois.
The Senate spent over an hour with the Texas State officials, talking about COVID-19 concerns, faculty responsibilities and mask mandates.
Carranco spoke for most of the meeting, answering questions from the faculty. One concern many Senate members questioned was the inability to require masks on campus and the new form of reporting positive COVID-19 cases to Bobcat Trace.
Carranco believes cases can be prevented on campus if the Texas State community wears masks. Some senators found this frustrating due to the lack of students they see not wearing masks. As of now, Carranco says those who choose to wear masks are protecting themselves, and hopefully, those who are not are taking other precautions.
“I hear from folks, they’re concerned about the fact that so many people are unmasked and perhaps half of our population or student population might be unvaccinated, and I’m concerned by that as well,” Carranco says. “What that means is it increases the risk for those who are unmasked and unvaccinated and I worry for them. But for you, those of you who have chosen to vaccinate and wear a mask every day you have very good protection and if you follow those 12 health and safety guidelines that have been part of the Roadmap for so long, you’ll find other things you can do to protect yourself.”
When asked why Texas State wouldn’t take a stance and either be fully remote or require masks, Trauth explained that the university would not go against Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order.
“We, like the other 36 public [universities] in Texas, are considered state agencies and so, we are under an executive order that says we cannot mandate vaccines, and we cannot mandate face coverings. There’s just no question about that. I know that some people would like us to break the law because it has the force of law, we’re simply not going to do that. We don’t break the law, we follow the laws of Texas,” Trauth says.
In regards to the new format of reporting COVID-19 cases in Bobcat Trace, the reporting service will now share results that have been reported to the course’s instructor and students enrolled in the class section. One Senate member believed this would be a problem, due to his class receiving an email during a lecture, which caused a frenzy. Carranco replied by stating the reasoning behind the updated reporting methods was due to people wanting to know if they had been exposed and to quickly inform them of exposure.
“In trying to create an automated system to respond to that need that was what we came up with first,” Carranco says. “I mean can we adjust that system in some way? We probably can. My guess is some people will complain that, we didn’t give the information to them sooner, if we had the information why didn’t we get the information to them sooner. I don’t know, but, still, I appreciate that comment we can think about it and see if there’s a better way to do the notification so they’re not as disruptive.”
Trauth says starting Sept. 7 the university will begin an incentive program encouraging students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated. The program will reward people who get vaccinated and those who already are by having reward draws.
“We do not know how effective this is going to be, but it is something that we can do. It’s a positive thing and we think, more so probably with our students, It’s something we can do to encourage them to get vaccinated,” Trauth says.
After remarks from the President’s Academic Advisory Group, Faculty Senate discussed how they will be moving its main form of communication to Microsoft Teams. The communication app will allow the Senate to communicate using chat settings and share meeting documents.
The Senate also took signups for commencement mace bearers, requiring that a faculty member can only sign up to be a mace bearer for their college.

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