The Southern Utah University Student Association held a press conference in the Living Room of the Sharwan Smith Student Center on Thursday, Oct. 7 for students to meet the SUUSA representatives.
The executive council of SUUSA gathered to answer questions posed by Carson Brown, executive council member of the Michael O. Leavitt Center, and the audience attending the event.
Each executive council member opened by introducing themselves and their positions in SUUSA. The executive council is run by Student Body President Nouman Kante, the VP of Academics Mitchell Zufelt, the VP of Programming Paige Washburn, as well as other members.
The main focus of SUUSA is to connect the student body by representing their wants and needs to the Southern Utah University administration. By doing so, SUUSA provides a pathway for students to be directly involved in SUU administrative decisions.
Brown asked Kante the first set of questions that revolved around current issues.
“What is SUUSA doing to address the lack of campus parking?” Brown asked. “Is there a possibility of classes going online in the Spring semester due to COVID, and how did SUUSA represent the student body’s opinion for the vaccine mandate decision.”
“Parking is a really challenging issue this year because of the massive incoming freshman class,” Kante responded. “When we expressed the issue to administration we talked about extending parking lot F14 across the street from the SUU library for students.”
Kante further explained that parking is an ongoing issue because the university does not have any open lots to switch to parking. The university is encouraging students to ride bikes to school despite the impending weather during the winter months.
Kante quickly shut down the second question of the possibility of classes going online next semester. He stated that this was merely a rumor and as of now the university plans for a face-to-face spring semester.
Kante explained how they are representing the student body regarding the vaccine mandate decision by saying, “We wanted to make sure we created a T-bird community that promoted unity with such a polarizing issue.”
Kante continued, “First I don’t think this was a mandate because of the exemptions; however, we were able to properly voice the concerns of the student body through forums and surveys and asked as many students as we could.”
Brown continued the discussion with questions for VP of Academics Mitch Zufelt.
“Why is SUUSA advocating for masks to be worn on campus?” Brown asked.
“Our senate just passed a resolution to renew SUU’s commitment for keeping campus open, healthy and safe,” Zufelt said. “What the spring semester looks like is entirely up to us and by wearing masks we help ensure that SUU will remain open.”
Student events, like the annual Scream Halloween event, have the potential to be a COVID super spreader event. So, when Brown asked how programming is going to handle the Scream while dealing with COVID, Paige Washborn was quick to answer.
“COVID is an ever-evolving situation,” Washborn stated. “We are always assessing the current situation in regards to holding our events and looking for ways to ensure student safety.”
Ella Gambill, an SUU student, asked Washborn, “Will future events require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test in order to attend?”
“Per law, we cannot require those standards.” Washburn responded.
If students have further questions for SUUSA, each executive council member has office hours. You can find their contact information on the SUUSA website as well as information for future SUUSA events.
Story and photos by: Danielle Meuret