Indiana Daily Student

Bloomington Faculty Council discusses COVID-19 response, passes new interim suspension policy

<p>The Bloomington Faculty Council convenes March 3 in Franklin Hall. The council met again Tuesday to hear proposals in support of advocacy for graduate student academic appointees and a new interim suspension policy.</p>

The Bloomington Faculty Council convenes March 3 in Franklin Hall. The council met again Tuesday to hear proposals in support of advocacy for graduate student academic appointees and a new interim suspension policy.

The Bloomington Faculty Council heard proposals in support of graduate student employees and a new interim suspension policy during Tuesday's meeting. The council began the meeting by presenting its plans to continue to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic at IU.

Provost Lauren Robel began her opening statement by explaining the current positivity rates of the coronavirus testing in residential halls and greek houses. She noted residential halls have seen a small increase in positivity rates since the on-arrival testing that began Aug. 24. 

Robel expressed concern about COVID-19 transmission in the greek houses. Greek life reported an 8% positivity rate after the first week.

Each greek house has put their own individual plans in place with the university. However, the Monroe County Health Department has now put 19 greek houses in quarantine and suspended further in-person activity, according to the university website. 

Robel said the university plans to continue to test residential and greek life students more often through the mitigation testing process. Through this, the university hopes to track cases and prevent outbreaks in residential spaces with case increases before they are able to spread.  

Following the pandemic discussion, the council voted on a resolution in support of graduate student employees presented support for graduate students. President of Graduate Student Government Dakota Coates explained he supports the resolution citing the lack of representation and help graduate students employees received throughout the pandemic.

Coates said the goal of the resolution is to provide financial support for these graduate students. The resolution also highlighted the significance of avoiding pay cuts or laying graduate students off and allowing them to continue their academic track. 

Though no official university policy has been established from this proposal yet, the resolution was passed. The council said they will discuss a course of action to implement these ideas in future meetings.  

Council member and physics professor Paul Sokol continued the meeting by presenting the new interim suspension policy. This policy would make it possible for the university to suspend a student and remove them from campus immediately following a behavioral threat that can endanger other members of IU’s community. Consequences could go as far as no contact orders with other students, temporary housing moves and or complete removal from IU’s campus and services.

He explained the policy’s difference to the current suspension policy, which calls for a hearing process in order to implement consequences. Sokol said the the current policy makes it difficult for the university to remove a student who might pose an ongoing threat of sexual misconduct or violence toward other students.

Under new policy from President Donald Trump's administration, the university is unable to use the current policy to remove a student for misconduct in any form. The policy was passed in the meeting and will continue to be discussed in future meetings.

The next council meeting is scheduled to be over Zoom on Sept. 15.

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