A.S. Council Brief: Vaccination Volunteers, In-Person Spring Graduation, Student Vaccination Distribution

This edition of the UCSD A.S. Council Brief news update includes the Week 3 and Week 4 meetings.

Week 3

UC San Diego Associated Students hosted their third virtual meeting of Winter Quarter 2021 on Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 6:00 p.m. The meeting featured discussion of CalPIRG’s latest campus efforts, recent academic accommodations, COVID-19 vaccine volunteers, and new items for Senate approval.

Following roll call, the meeting opened with public comment from Revelle College freshman and CalPIRG intern Xuan Feldman, who provided information regarding CalPIRG’s efforts in working on a Senate Resolution to take climate change action on campus. 

“We had Assembly Member Chris Ward in attendance who gave an amazing speech about civic engagement and the importance of taking swift but equitable action on climate change,” Feldman said. “We are working hard this quarter to help draft a Senate Resolution, hopefully for you all, to take climate action on campus.”

CalPIRG’s update came after their recent Winter Quarter Kick Off meeting. A total of 189 students attended the meeting, breaking all attendance records across all CalPIRG chapters. 

A.S. President Kimberly Giangtran then highlighted the recent academic accommodations from UC San Diego, which include extensions for changing grading options, dropping courses, and withdrawing from the quarter.

“I just want to thank David Hickman for making a lot of these academic accommodations happen and for the students who helped us in this body, as well for spreading the word,” Giangtran said. “The letter that was signed on by all of the college council presidents was really helpful and really helped show a unified front on the student end and the testimonies shared with us through the Office of Academic Affairs. There were over 1000 testimonies that really helped in making the case in the rep assembly.”

Giangtran also detailed A.S.’s current efforts to secure short-term housing for students who may need it over summer due to COVID-19 displacement, the need to quarantine before heading home, or other external circumstances.

As UCSD partners with San Diego County and the San Diego Padres to administer COVID-19 vaccinations near Petco Park, they are seeking additional volunteers, as Giangtran said in the meeting. As anyone is welcome to volunteer, she urged everyone to volunteer if possible, and to encourage their friends to do so as well. 

The CDC recently released new guidelines for international travelers planning to travel to the United States, which requires proof of a negative COVID-19 test no more than three days prior to travel. A.S. is in the process of trying to figure out if and how such guidelines could impact international students. 

The Legislative Committee introduced Items L1–L9. Items L1–L7 were approved; the items were appointments of different students for positions with the Office of Spirit and Athletics, the Triton Lobby Corps, and the Office of External Affairs. 

Item L9, the Expanding Senatorial Elections Act, which was sponsored by Biological Sciences Senator Mihir Pandya, was tabled indefinitely.

Item L8, also sponsored by Pandya, proposed an amendment to the A.S. Constitution: the Expanding Senatorial Elections Act, which was thus discharged to the Senate floor.

The amendment would increase international and out-of-state student representation in the Senate by including two new elected senator positions. L8 was met with concerns regarding the language of the amendment, logistical concerns, and possible overrepresentation.

Financial Controller Nicholas Butler voiced his concern about the expansion of the Senate being unnecessary.

“I don’t know if enlarging Senate is necessarily the move,” Butler said. “It already seems like things get a bit bogged down. I’m in favor of moving them from appointed to elected positions, but just expanding Senate — I don’t know if that’s the right move.”

Item L8 did not receive the required three-fourths majority vote from Senators in order to pass; 26 votes in favor were needed; it received 24 votes in favor and three votes against. The feedback that the Senators gave to Pandya while discussing the amendment will guide Pandya as he decides how to proceed from here. Feedback from Senators will be considered by Pandya and he will proceed from there. 

Week 4

A.S.’s Week 4 meeting for Winter Quarter 2021 on Wednesday, Jan. 27 featured President Giangtran’s review of a meeting she had with Chancellor Pradeep Khosla and A.S. Vice President of Campus Affairs Hannah Kreitman. The meeting addressed the UC Office of the President’s upcoming transformational policing event, tuition hikes, and student vaccinations — especially in light of the UCOP’s plan to have students return to campus in Fall Quarter 2021

“[Chancellor Khosla] hopes that we’ll be at 80–90 percent [capacity] in the fall,” Giangtran said. “He also said that he hopes for an in-person graduation this year, […] and he says not to get your hopes up too much, but the hope and goal is to have graduates walk the stage and to have their families watch virtually through a live stream.” 

Chancellor Khosla also addressed that different student health insurance plans pose a challenge in administering COVID-19 vaccines to those who want it when the resources are available. 

“People who have insurance back in the Bay Area or in a different state would have to get vaccinated through their primary care if they’re not near campus,” Giangtran said. “And that’s something that Chancellor Khosla has committed to doing for students. […] He wants to get every student who wants to get vaccinated — he plans on giving them the vaccine.”

Social Sciences Senator Jamila Francisco asked Giangtran if graduates in Spring Quarter 2021, under Khosla’s envisioned distribution plan, would still receive the vaccine if resources were not available until after their graduation date. 

“It’s all contingent and dependent on supply,” Giangtran said. “The Chancellor said he would vaccinate anyone who wanted one if he could. Currently, there isn’t enough for us to do that, but I would guess that if we had the vaccine for graduating seniors before they left, then they would probably be next in line.”

Additionally, Giangtran met with the Educational Continuity Task Force to review UCSD’s plans for the next few quarters. The next few quarters are projected to look very similar to how they are now: there will be hybrid models, with the option to attend courses in-person as well as remotely. The outdoor tents which host in-person course meetings will continue to stay up until at least Winter Quarter 2022. 

The task force hopes to bring as many students back to campus as possible, with the goal next quarter of trying to house an additional 1000 residents on campus. Further, they would like to change dorm options to include only singles and doubles, hopefully permanently eliminating the option of triples. 

Engineering Senator Alexander Levine posed numerous questions to Giangtran, including inquiring whether vaccinations would be required for students to return to campus once available.

“The answer right now is no,” Giangtran said. “We asked that to Chancellor Khosla yesterday and it’s something we hope people will do. It’s a hurdle that he — I think I’m quoting him: ‘it’s a hurdle we’ll get over when we get there,’ but I would hope that they do eventually mandate it, unless the student has some kind of allergic reaction or religious reason for not getting it. At the moment, they don’t have a set plan for mandating it but they are looking into doing that.”

Chancellor Khosla also spoke to Giangtran and Kreitman about the discourse regarding a possible tuition increase, saying that this is unlikely to happen at UCSD in the next school year. 

“[Kreitman] and I heard from Chancellor Khosla that there is almost a zero percent chance of a tuition increase happening in the 2021-2022 school year,” Giangtran said. 

The Academic Integrity Office updated Giangtran on UCSD staff and faculty’s attempts to crack down further on an uptick of violations of academic integrity policies in the past few quarters, which Giangtran attributes to the transition to virtual learning during Winter Quarter 2020. 

Associate University Librarian Dani Cook also spoke during the meeting’s Special Presentation portion to shed light on the virtual and in-person library services available to students at this moment in time. The Library is currently hosting virtual study rooms, as well as limited in-person study space available in the Biomedical Library Building by reservation only.  Parents with underage children can request a family study table. 

Through the library, students can access various articles, e-books, and more via VPN. In addition, they are able to request scans of portions of books and documents, virtual consultations with a subject librarian for research assistance in a particular field, access to a LinkedIn Learning subscription, as well as in-person printer access, computer access, and curbside pickup for books.

Cook also urged students to take the biennial Student Satisfaction Survey: 

“We’d super appreciate it if you could fill out some of those feedback questions,” Cook said. “We really do take this feedback very seriously, we look at it every year. We make changes, adjustments, especially as we’re looking towards maybe some changes in the Spring Quarter and in the fall.”  

Financial Controller Butler then announced that he had received extra funding for the virtual Sun God festival this year but will be finalizing details of the event before sharing more information.

During the Reports of External News portion of the meeting, Transfer Senator Yarenni Reyes Medina said that she is looking to foster a larger community for UCSD transfer students after examining results from pertinent surveys and reaching out to transfer representatives from the different colleges. She will be hosting an inter-college transfer social with A.S. by Week 7 or Week 8.

A.S. hosts their council meetings live on Zoom every Wednesday at 6 p.m. The public is welcome to attend. Links to future meetings are available on the A.S. website; recordings of previous meetings can be found on the ASUCSD Facebook page.

Artwork courtesy of Yui Kita for The UCSD Guardian.