Student Senate Report- March 4, 2020

Vice President Kathy Collins visited the University of Rhode Island’s Student Senate tonight to talk about two topics and bills that were discussed at this week’s meeting.

Collins began by answering questions about the Women’s Center, which will be closing and reallocating its resources elsewhere. The Women’s Center, located in an old fraternity house on 22 Upper College Road, currently houses 14 students out of 35 available beds. Out of those 14 students, seven are graduating next year, according to Collins. The remaining seven have been offered opportunities for female-only living on campus.

Collins explained that she is committed to finding a spot on-campus that will provide female-only housing. According to Collins, one of the University Gateway Apartments is the most likely option for said housing, though the decision is not final. Collins said she is “open to suggestions.”

Additionally, Collins said that she is trying to also have a spot on campus for male-only housing.

Collins also emphasized her commitment to improving the Women’s Center programs, as well as advertising them more to students.

“To be honest with you, from one leader to another, I’ve been quite disappointed with the educational opportunities and programs coming out of the Women’s Center during my four years here,” Collins said. “There are many opportunities for us to talk about intersectionality, for us to talk about [the gender pay gap], for us to talk about all kinds of different things and we have not been providing that for you.”

Collins promised a national search for a new director for the Women’s Center, as the position is currently vacant.

Collins also spoke to the Senate about COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, which she said she has been spending “approximately 3-4 hours of [her] day” looking into.

First, Collins noted that URI is, at the moment, low-risk for contracting the coronavirus, and there have not been any confirmed cases at the University. She also confirmed that students abroad in China returned to the United States in January, and students in Italy are currently being recalled to the U.S.

“We monitor [countries] using [Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)] levels. Once a country gets to CDC level three, we recall,” Collins said. 

At the moment, China, Italy, South Korea and Iran are all at level three under the CDC’s travel notices, meaning that they are encouraging people to “avoid nonessential travel” to these countries.

The students that were abroad in China and Italy will make up their programs with online classes, according to Collins. URI is also asking these students to stay home for 14 days.

“Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands,” Collins said. “20 seconds. Soap and water. That’s two rounds of the Rhody fight song.”

Senators also discussed a bill introduced to the floor by Senator Billy Ferrara. The bill called for URI to allocate resources to club teams that are not Club Sports and Intramural Council (CSIC).

CSIC cannot recognize club sports that have a varsity counterpart, according to Ferrara. The bill, if passed, would give non-CSIC club sports access to the same kinds of facilities CSIC club sports use.

A proposal to immediately vote on the bill was rejected due to there not being the required number of voting members in the Senate chambers at the time of introduction. It will be voted on at the next meeting. 

Multiple senators, including Bolu Taiwo and Christopher Bove, mentioned their strong support for the bill during the discussion.

“Supporting needs for clubs and students are extremely important, and I’m really glad this bill is on the floor,” Student Organization Committee Chair and President-elect Austyn Ramsay said. 

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