At the Week 1 meeting on Jan. 5, the Associated Students discussed many different issues affecting the students of UC San Diego. The issues varied from the unethical research of a professor in the anthropology department to the transition to hybrid learning and COVID-19 updates about UCSD.
First, John Muir College Senator Daosiri Rattanamansuang discussed that it would be useful to have delivery services for students on campus. Students who are unable to leave their rooms would benefit from being able to have food delivered from dining halls and Price Center restaurants. One way to accomplish this would be by incorporating starship food delivery robots, which are mini robots that are autonomous and self-drive to deliver food. Rattanamansuang also noted that “three other UC campuses already have them.”
Eleanor Roosevelt College Senator Isabella Ramos then talked about how to help student workers with parking. Ramos advocated for student workers to be able to have access to parking so they can be on time for their jobs. Having parking spots specifically designated for student workers would help with this problem.
Arts and Humanities Senator Rhianen Callahan also highlighted an important issue related to the anthropology department at UCSD. Former critical gender studies faculty member Dr. Saiba Varma, has been accused of conducting research that violated guidelines.
Varma’s research took place in Kashmir, which is currently occupied by India. Callahan claimed that “Varma went in to conduct research on the mental health of Kashmiris” in Kashmiri clinics after the militarization of their land. Varma allegedly demanded that Kashmiris discuss their trauma in Hindi, so she could translate it for her book.
The critical gender studies department released a statement claiming that “the colonial Indian state intelligence apparatus had appointed Varma’s father (formerly a high-ranking official of the Research and Analysis wing, the highest intelligence agency of India and architect of torture, counter-insurgency, and counter-terrorism policies in Kashmir and elsewhere) and colleagues to draw up plans, including torture, sexual violence, and counter-insurgency as instruments of war.”
Moreover, Varma claimed to bear a comitttment to decolonial, anti-racist, and feminist politics, yet never disclosed her upper caste background during the sessions with these Kashmiris.
Furthermore, Callahan said, “[Varma] was not honest and not understanding … and she took advantage of other people for the sake of research.”
So far, the anthropology department has not addressed the public about this important issue.
Earl Warren College Senator Allyson Muir talked about feedback she received from the students in Warren College, especially with lighting and safety. Warren College’s remote location makes it more dangerous at night. Muir mentioned that safety kits might be helpful for students when they are walking to and from Warren in the dark and asked other senators for their input to develop these kits.
A.S. President Manu Agni then gave some updates about the UCSD campus. Geisel Library is open until 10 p.m. with masks required.
Students with a D parking permit will be allowed to park in S and B spots until Jan. 30.
Agni emphasized the importance of students getting tested as soon as possible and as often as possible. Students who have not returned to campus can “request a rapid antigen test to be self-administered 24 hours before they arrive.”
The deadline for all students, faculty, staff, and academic appointees to get their booster shot is Jan. 31 or two weeks after six months from the second dose. So far 13,000 students have received their booster shots. Engineering Senator Samir Nomani announced that Price Center is administering booster shots in the west ballroom, after UCSD has seen a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.
Finally, Vice President of External Affairs Adrianna Blackshire said that the UCSA Student of Color Conference will now take place remotely on Jan. 29; anyone from any campus can join. The Students of Color Conference provides a safe space for students of color and allies to formulate statewide and campus-based steps.
At their Week 2 meeting on Jan. 12, A.S. Council discussed the important issues of remote learning and COVID-19. With the remote learning deadline extended to Jan. 31, A.S. Council advocated for the smooth transition from remote to hybrid learning.
First, Chief of Staff of Office of Campus Affairs, Rachel Guadesi, gave a presentation on performance standards, which will be conducted during weeks 3 and 4. A.S. members will be judged based on the quality of their work, planning and organizing, productivity, teamwork and more.
VP External Affairs Adrianna Blackshire noted that during the January board meeting of the student regents, there was discussion on testing plans and booster requirements with increased COVID-19 cases.
The representatives from the UC unions have discussed the issues with the shift to online learning. The shift has led to more UC campuses laying off people. One change is that all workers now have protected access to healthcare, whether they are on strike or not.
UC Student Association campaign’s goal is to defund UCPD and discussions collaborating with UCAB to improve campus safety.
Then, President Manu Agni mentioned that he is trying to make sure professors are still recording lectures even after the return to in-person learning. Registrar is working with faculty to update which classes are completely remote so students can add/drop classes before the deadline.
AS will be sending out a memo that students cannot be required to complete in-person research during this time.
Moreover, COVID-19 cases are at the highest they’ve ever been on campus with 305 positive students on campus and 739 off campus in San Diego since Jan 9. During the weekend of Jan. 15, 4,000 students are expected to move back onto campus. HDH is planning to add another 140 hotel beds after isolation housing availability has decreased. Furthermore, all students who have been boosted or are boosted by the end of January will receive a $10 credit in Triton Cash.
Photo courtesy of Ava Bayley for the UCSD Guardian.