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February 22, 2024

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Better masking communication: Protections for high-risk students caps off ‘21-’22 USG administration

usg+report+9%2F1+-+Graphic+by+Hallie+Riley
usg report 9/1 – Graphic by Hallie Riley

The Undergraduate Student Government called for increased communication between the BGSU administration and immunocompromised individuals in response to concerns over the mask mandate being lifted on Feb. 26.

The passing of Senate Resolution 10 capped off the 2021-22 USG administration, led by President Alexander Chiarelott and Gil Lutz. 

“Our goal is to provide (high risk individuals) with a safe means of communication so that there can be a dialogue between professors and students about how to be safe in the classroom,” Rose Brookhart, co-author of S.R. 10, said. 

The responsibility of creating communication between professors and students will not fall solely on the student, but rather be managed by the faculty. This will allow students to keep their medical information private.

Academic Affairs Chair Zach Noesen gave the example of a survey being sent out by professors asking for the opinion of their students on masking requirements in the classroom.

“(A survey is) a simple form of communication but I think it’s really powerful and just ensures that everyone in the classroom feels comfortable with the decision made,” Noesen said.

USG also supports the continuation of masks being offered on campus for students, faculty and staff within Bowling Green State University through S.R. 10. 

The final part of S.R. 10 calls for the creation of a committee of “self-identified immunocompromised or otherwise high-risk students or generally interested students to voice specific concerns to the Chief Health and Wellness Officer (Ben Batey).” 

Batey spoke with USG to gather the senators’ perspectives on health services around campus and what could be improved upon.

The senators brought up multiple bad experiences with the Falcon Health Center located across the street from the Maurer Center.

One USG senator gave Batey an example of the time she attended the Falcon Health Center to help with administering her medication during her first year on campus.

After explaining to the nurse how to go about administering the medication, she left the clinic with the nurse incorrectly administering that same medication. 

Following this incident, Falcon Health then started to isolate her and told her “it was my word against theirs.”

“It didn’t feel like a safe space as a student anymore,” she said.

Batey explained that Health and Wellness do not often see the complaints that students file with Falcon Health so a possible survey set up by BGSU and not connected to Falcon Health could help.

“So, we can operate within our division of Health and Wellness to actually have, maybe, an open survey as well. That (way) people can provide information to us because that makes it easier when we have our monthly meetings with Falcon Health to be able to bring up concerns that students are having,” Batey said. 

Another USG senator said she struggled with not knowing who to go to for checkups and primary care.

“It’s kind of been disjointed from my home primary care and I don’t really know when or where to get things. I never really knew what to do for primary care … I don’t know who to ask. I don’t know how to do that,” she said. 

In response to the problems the second senator brought up, Batey introduced the idea of telehealth being an option for students.

“I think as we are all getting more used to zoom and meeting in this way and the technologies advancing. Because (telehealth) could solve that issue of ‘I’m out of state’ it doesn’t matter if I’m in California or I’m here, I have this provider that I can stay connected to throughout the four years as well,” Batey said. 

Telehealth will not be the only option for students but is rather provided so that students are not walking across campus to then wait to see a doctor. This will allow them the flexibility of seeing a doctor when they need one. 

Telehealth, Batey said, will open more doors for students to get in contact with mental health services due to the current shortage of mental health providers in the medical field. 

There were also questions about the education of faculty members in different resources around campus. 

Batey said that “we’re continually working on this, especially with the community of care initiatives, of how can we help educate our faculty and staff on how to better support students and steer them to resources.” 

USG wrapped up their conversation with Batey, asking about bringing more diversity to the hired counselors within the counseling center.

“We have had a wealth of new hires where President Rodgers has added some positions within the counseling center and we’ve specifically put that diversity aspect at the top of some of our searches … so I feel like we have started to make some progress in that and you’ll continue to see that,” Batey said. 

The USG elections have started and will remain open until Thursday, March 31st at 8:00 am. The link to vote is sent to every undergraduate student through their BGSU email.

The Green Fund Organization has also opened its applications for new members and will remain open till Friday, April 8th. 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, in which case the Wellness Center will be hosting a 5K and dog walk on Saturday, April 9th, register on the BGSU Community of Care page

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