Senate Beat: Mar 11, 2020

No Clear Solution to Scrounge Closure

This past Wednesday, the senators convened to sit and chat about the coronavirus pandemic and the increasing toll it’s taking on our community — most notably the recent shutdown of the near and dear food security salvation, the Scrounge. Members of the COVID-19 task force were present to plead with the senators for insight regarding a temporary Scrounge replacement. Other topics included Renn Fayre updates and Senator Aziz Ouedraogo’s adventures in Hum 110. 

Vice President of Student Life and co-chair of the COVID-19 taskforce, Mike Brody, began the conversation by stressing the current necessity for a long-term solution to the dismantling of the Scrounge. The situation is becoming increasingly detrimental, and it is apparent, after only a couple days, that the voucher system is in no way an ideal replacement. Commons is currently making $7 voucher tickets available to students who ask at the checkout, and while this sounds like a pretty solid temporary fix, the system is being abused by students with no display of need. This drastic misuse of the system is causing an especially insufficient fix because of the severe and unexpected financial impact. All of the money for this system is coming out of the budgets of Brody himself and Santi Alston, Title IX Coordinator and Program Director for Restorative Practices. The apparent dissonance between Brody’s expectations and the reality of the situation  is causing internal turmoil in developing a better system. On the one hand, the administration wants to prevent the misuse of vouchers, but on the other, they understand that any additional barriers applied to the process would be a fundamental corruption of the spirit of the Scrounge. If they were to instate an additional application process to the voucher system, there is a fear of preventing student access to the basic human need of sustenance. The ideal solution in conversation would be to institute a group commuter system and community board points. However, this process would take a few weeks to get in motion. The current issue is finding a system to bridge the time between now and then. 

A question arose contemplating the possibility of the college closing residence halls, especially considering the large percentage of students that are out-of-state or international. Few answers were given regarding this issue, but Brody promised to follow the Oregon Health Authority and CDC suggestions. As of the Wednesday, March 11 senate meeting, Reed is testing online classes. Reed is also taking guidance from the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission, which announced on Wednesday, March 11 that they are awaiting an announcement by the Center for Disease Control on Thursday, March 12, which may change Reed and other higher education institution’s course of action. Additionally, Governor Kate Brown announced on Wednesday, March 11, at a press conference that new coronavirus response measures will take place on Thursday, March 12 at 11 a.m. 

The meeting came to a close with Brody’s deeply concerned questioning of the senators’ personal states of wellbeing. He asked their forgiveness for modeling as “senate’s father,” but insisted on the repeated prioritization of sleep and water intake. And in Brody’s own words, don’t forget that “your immune system is your best friend right now.” So sleep, stay safe, and, as the kids say these days, ‘hydrate or diedrate.’

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