The Mercury tracked Student Government’s progress with President and political science senior Ryan Short’s and Vice President and business administration sophomore Imaan Razak’s campaign promises. The following is our break-down:
Promise 1: Uplift student concerns around UTD’s continued COVID-19 response
- Met with UTD administration to address student concerns over inaccuracies in COVID-19 cases on UTD’s COVID-19 dashboard at the beginning of the fall semester. Dashboard was updated with accurate COVID-19 case data.
- Met with the Dean of Students Office, which handles contact tracing, to discuss student concerns around testing, vaccination numbers and general COVID-19 updates.
- Passed de-densification, attendance policy, seating chart and lecture recording resolutions centering around the classroom response to COVID-19. Polled students for de-densification and classroom policy resolution to gauge desire for extending de-densification and student health concerns with in-person instruction, of which the majority voted in favor of de-densification and expressed health concerns with face-to-face lectures. The resolutions ultimately did not pass through the Academic Senate to be implemented into the University.
Promise 2: Strengthen SG’s commitment to student advocacy
- Met monthly with Vice President of Student Affairs Gene Fitch and discussed student concerns gauged from polls, surveys, UTD-affiliated apps and online sites and SG’s interaction with students. Met with Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Yvette Pearson and the Committee for Support of Diversity and Equity to discuss student representation in DEI initiatives.
- Released surveys and petitions to gauge student interest and concerns. Surveys/petitions included those on commencement venue preferences, de-densification, classroom policy and a plastic ban.
- Implemented a disposable mask recycling bin initiative to recycle masks into raw material. Mask-recycling bins were added to the Visitor’s Center, Bookstore Lobby, Student Union Lobby, Student Services Addition Lobby, Dining Hall West Lobby, Engineering and Computer Science West Atrium and Naveen Jindal School of Management Atrium.
- Hosted and assisted with voter registration events for unregistered students to partake in November local elections.
- Planning to host events and launch initiatives regarding student mental health, academic success, artistic talent and political engagement next semester, including the Mental Health Summit, academic success workshops for first year students, the Blank Space Art initiative and collaboration with local elected officials.
- Fell short in addressing issues of menstrual equity. Planning to propose a long-term and sustainable menstrual equity initiative inspired by practices at other Texas universities next semester.
Promise 3: Ensure students have the necessary resources for a safe return to campus
- Advocated for students to partake in COVID-19 safe practices such as mask-wearing, social distancing and getting vaccinated.
- Worked with administration to keep the Comets United page up to date. Working with administration currently for the page to reflect information on receiving COVID-19 vaccine boosters through the Student Health Center.
- Planning to work with Comet Cupboard to raise money toward easing food insecurity during the holiday season.
Promise 4: Bridge the gap between pre- and post-COVID in SG
- Continuing SG initiatives proposed pre-COVID, such as focusing on and maintaining the DEI SG Committee and launching the Blank Space Art initiative next semester to display student artwork in the Student Union and eventually around campus.
- Polled senators to gather data on their knowledge of SG’s process to gauge how to best help senators transition into their roles. SG plans to provide further resources and guidance to newer SG members using the results.
“We’ve really wanted to focus on rebuilding the foundation of SG coming back from COVID. … A lot of it has been getting things back in motion and making sure that at the very least, our senators are aware of what is possible and what the process looks like this semester. Hopefully, when [senators] are in our shoes two, three years from now, they have this experience to help guide them,” Short said.
Promise 5: Provide adequate communication about SG and campus to students
- Presented bi-weekly COVID-19 updates at Senate meetings.
- Communications Committee worked through SG’s social media (primarily Instagram) to connect with students, showcase events on campus and provide campus and SG updates including those related to UTD’s COVID-19 dashboard, Texas constitutional amendments, the TechKNOWledgy Bar, UTD Grades and SG election results, among other things.
- Planning to host regular tabling sessions next semester for students to learn about SG and campus, and for students to approach senators with their concerns.
Promise 6: Increase collaboration between SG and student organizations
- Sponsored and/or hosted events in collaboration with student organizations. Events included National Coming Out Day, the Mental Health Week student panel, the SG and RHA Pumpkin Painting and the SG and GSA Blood Drive, among others.
- Planning to spearhead the President’s lunch — a student organizational leader meeting — next semester to connect with and discuss collaborations between SG and student organizations for future events.