Interim Provost addresses COVID-19, course modality at SGA meeting


Interim Provost Richard Rothaus speaks at a Student Government Association meeting regarding COVID-19 protocols and course modality on Jan. 31 in the Bovee University Center Auditorium.

At the second Student Government Association meeting of the semester, Interim Provost Richard Rothaus spoke about the state of the university’s COVID-19 cases and added context about course modality.

Rothaus addressed rumors that faculty are not allowed to turn on webcams for class. He said they have the option to do so; the only barrier is class modality, once it is set it cannot be changed.

“Changing modality is not as easy as pressing a button,” he said. “A good modality change requires a course redesign.”

Rothaus said Central Michigan University’s vaccine numbers add reassurance to the decision to have most classes in-person. He said over 90% of staff and faculty, and nearly 80% of students, are vaccinated.

“In Central Michigan, this is the safest place you can be,” he said.

Rothaus told students if they are not being accommodated in class to first talk to the professor, then go to the department chair or program head, and if that does not work, then go to the dean.

“You can’t just say to a student ‘too bad you were in quarantine figure it out’,” Rothaus said. “That’s not an option we’re exercising at this university because global pandemic – it’s no one’s fault if they get exposed or catch (COVID).”

He said the faculty and others involved should work to find an adequate substitute but sometimes disagreements arise regarding what is appropriate.

“Sometimes we find a lot of disagreement on what is that adequate substitute,” he said. “I know that students absolutely hate that ‘Your alternative is to read these articles and write a response paper’… like anything else there’s some give and take on that, but there has to be something.”

Rothaus said the high vaccination rates, and lower infection rates on campus compared to nearby communities means "we are doing a good job."

“That’s the lens I’m using,” he said. “How are we matching up to our surrounding communities because in a global pandemic you can’t be perfect everywhere, but you should be doing better than your surrounding communities.”

Mask compliance

Students in the audience asked about mask compliance within the classroom. Rothaus said that anyone blatantly not wearing a mask is unacceptable, but “where it gets tricky is the masks that slip below the nose.”

“Some faculty are just not comfortable to say pull your mask up… it’s not their personality,” he said. “Other faculty have frankly gotten burned out of saying 22 times (per) class to pull your mask up… They did not sign on to become experts in their field and also tell people to wear masks.”

He recommended students “insist on (their) rights” and even tell their peers, themselves, to pull up their mask.

Another student in the audience, who works as a Resident Assistant, said her fellow students rarely listen to her when acting from a place of authority, so it’s even less likely they would listen in the classroom.

One audience member said students, like herself, working in customer service have to enforce mask mandates, so educators should do the same to “make us feel like we’re in a safe space.”

Central Civics Presentation

After Rothaus' session with SGA, voter engagement student coordinator Maddie Thomas of Central Civics gave a brief presentation about civic engagement efforts on campus. 

She highlighted Central Civics' semester long programing called the Citizenship Crash Course. The series of events that cover topics including activism, protest politics, petitions, and global citizenship. The events are free of charge. 

Below is information for the remaining events in this semester's Citizenship Crash Course:

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Art and Advocacy


Powers 136

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Spotting Fake News


UC Rotunda

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Civics Workshop with the Union of Concerned Scientists


The link will be available closer to the event date.

Other Business

  • Nolan Henson and Jaron Johnston were elected to the senate.

Henson is a fourth-year student studying Public and Non-Profit Administration and Sociology.

He did outreach for the NAACP for two years and worked as an inclusion assistant in Kessler Hall.

He expressed an interest in SGA to help amplify marginalized identities. He said he is interested in developing a method to better understand students’ needs to increase retention.

Johnston, a transfer student from Arizona, said he loved being a part of student government at his community college because it was a great way to be involved and implement change.

He is a public administration and non-profit major and is involved in the Nonprofit Leadership Student Alliance and ROTC.

  • The senate tabled all pending legislation meaning voting on three pieces could happen next week

The first piece of legislation is "A Resolution for the Central Michigan University Board of Trustees and President Robert O. Davies to Prioritize Students’ Academic Well-Being Amid the Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic."

It calls for university administration to recognize that students should not be penalized for utilizing Hyflex formatting amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic among other demands. 

The second is 'A Resolution to Call for Central Michigan University, the Central Michigan University Office of Residence Life and CMU Campus Dining to Take Action to Compensate the South and Towers Community Residents for Their Ongoing Hardship in Obtaining Meals."

According to the working resolution, residents in the South and Towers Community have continued to express frustrations over hardship in utilizing their meal plans in their community’s dining facilities. This resolution calls for those residents to receive financial compensation.

The third piece of legislation calls for SGA to recognize the first week in February of every year to be National Gun Violence Survivors Week to honor and remember all victims and survivors of gun violence.