Julia Nagel/Sun Assistant Photography Editor

The Student Assembly passed three resolutions in a two hour long meeting covering COVID-19 risk, financial aid delays and disagreements with the Convocation Committee.

September 6, 2021

Student Assembly Confronts COVID-19 Cases, Financial Aid, Convocation Committee

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In Thursday’s Student Assembly meeting, representatives discussed COVID-19 risks on campus given the rising number of cases and potential academic accommodations, financial aid delays and beginning-of-year business. 

In one of their first meetings back in Willard Straight Hall, the representatives spoke to a nearly empty room.

The S.A. approved its annual budget and heard presentations about the Empathy, Assistance & Referral Service’s new mentoring programs, which aim to be more informal and cultivate better peer-to-peer support than their previous model. 

Later, the S.A. heard presentations about plans to generate interest in the first-year and transfer student elections, and the S.A.’s new role in soliciting applications for the University Hearing and Review Boards. 

This meeting came in the midst of extensive delays in the distribution of students’ financial aid packages. Some students have had to pay tuition without knowing what their aid would be, have received incorrect aid packages, have been temporarily withdrawn from the University over outstanding fees or have not yet received a package of any kind.

Condemning this state of affairs, the S.A. passed Resolution 15, which calls on the University to adopt a variety of measures to resolve the crisis, including expediting the release of all remaining financial aid packages, withdrawing any charges wrongly billed to students, and establishing an inquiry into the problems facing the financial aid department. 

“My [financial aid package] came out after the first payment was supposed to be due… [and] financial aid revisions were… not available until literally Aug. 10, when people then could not [plan] out their year to figure out how to pay for school,” College of Agriculture & Life Sciences Representative Adele Williams ’24 said. “I really want to call on Cornell to fix this situation, because paying for college is one of the biggest stresses that students face.”

At the same time, the University is struggling to contain the spread of the delta variant, which prompted the passing of Resolution 16. The resolution asks the University to enable and allow instructors to record lectures, offer a temporary virtual learning option and Zoom office hours and create accommodations for students who are in quarantine or cannot attend classes for other pandemic-related reasons.

“I just wanted to remind everybody that we’re ambassadors, we’re on the Student Assembly and we need to make sure that we’re being responsible,” Paine Gronemeyer ’24, College of Architecture, Art & Planning Representative, said. “We need to be wearing our masks as much as we can… and be a model for our constituents.” 

The S.A. also passed Resolution 12, which aimed to resolve a conflict with the Convocation Committee. According to the resolution’s sponsor, Vice President of Finance Morgan Baker ’23, the Convocation Committee had disagreed with a historical requirement to invite all seniors in the S.A. to sit on the Convocation Committee. 

Following a change by amendment, Resolution 12 passed, by proposing that the S.A. president and vice president must be invited to the Committee if they are seniors, and an additional six S.A. members must be invited after being selected internally by the S.A. to sit on the 30-member Committee.