Editor’s note: this article originally appeared on theeaglecoronavirusproject.com, a separate website created by Eagle staff at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in spring 2020. Articles from that website have been migrated to The Eagle’s main site and backdated with the dates they were originally published in order to allow readers to access them more easily.
Following the declaration of a state of exception by Student Government President Angela Chen and Speaker of the Undergraduate Senate Jeremy Ward on March 14, SG has taken action to attempt to alleviate AU students’ academic and financial hardships.
Due to the outbreak, all future SG-sponsored events have been canceled for the rest of the semester, leaving SG with leftover money that will fund the following initiatives:
SG allocated $27,000 to assist students with moving out by working with the on-campus UPS store to provide a $100 shipping voucher for each student who needs it.
Comptroller Bobby Zitzmann suggested this initiative would be especially helpful for the large number of students whose homes are across the country or overseas where shipping can be expensive.
“There are probably a lot of students whose families have come under financial stress because of the general economic troubles surrounding this pandemic, so that is another group of students for whom this voucher program would be especially helpful,” Zitzmann said.
Vouchers were available outside the campus UPS store every day until March 23 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Student Emergency Relief Fund
The Student Emergency Relief Fund was set up by AU’s financial aid office to aid students who have suffered financially as a result of the current pandemic.
“It would be difficult for us administratively as Student Government to figure out exactly who is in what kind of emergency, and who needs what money,” Zitzmann said. “We thought that since those students will be corresponding with the University about that, the University can use our money for that purpose.”
SG donated $23,000 to the fund that students can access via the Office of Campus Life.
Funds to students in emergency housing
Due to extenuating circumstances, a small number of AU students will remain on campus.
SG is working with the Market, AU’s food pantry, to provide $5,000 that would aid in ensuring available food for the remaining students on campus.
Chen additionally took up advocacy by speaking with the provost and academic administrators about extending the deadline for students to declare a pass/fail option in their classes. Ward described the push for this amidst the transition to online classes.
“Having talked to a lot of students, they say that they don't feel that they do well when it comes to online courses,” Ward said. “We wanted to do something where they could protect their GPA.”
AU students now have the option to change all classes to pass/fail.
Despite “unprecedented” circumstances leading to SG operating remotely, students are welcome to reach out to the organization, Ward said.
“We still do want to advocate for the students,” he said.