Student Association President Hunter Koch is working with SVSU administrators to address student concerns while also looking internally to restructure SA. In light of SVSU canceling in-person instruction and all meetings and events with crowds above 50 people, Hunter said SA will cancel formal office hours and committee meetings for its members.
“My biggest focus will be working through the allocations system,” he said. “I met with our allocations director earlier (last week) to talk about some of the potential to go online. We had been already considering going online for some of the allocation process, so that will be rolling out within the next few days.”
Koch said many RSOs and students have already withdrawn their allocation requests since their conferences or other events they wished to receive SA funding for have been canceled. Nonetheless, Koch wants SA to be available for students who still need funding or who have lost money on canceled events.
“Conferences have been canceled all over the world, and some people may not be able to get all their money back for certain things,” he said. “Figuring out what that looks like may take a short while to finally figure out what is going to be clear and consistent to handle those cases. … The allocation process is the most critical internally at this time, so individuals and organizations are still getting what they need.”
Koch has also been working with other university student governments to “monitor student reactions” and how universities are communicating with students.
“SVSU at this point is very student friendly and has made sure that, when these exercises of caution are made, they’re made with other circumstances in mind,” he said. “We need to make sure we keep our moral high-ground so all students are safe and healthy from COVID-19, but also safe and healthy as students themselves. So, they have a roof over their head, food to eat and anything that is absolutely necessary to be successful and complete the semester.”
Besides reworking SA meetings and services, Koch has also met with administrators to stress what SA sees as students’ needs in “this time of crisis.”
“I know the university has been willing to address issues from students in a way that is much more accessible than in general times when things like this aren’t going on,” he said, “so that has decreased the number of issues we have heard about, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t here to hear those concerns and talk to administrators about those concerns as well.”
The highest-priority need Koch sees for students is keeping housing and dining open.
“A lot of times, even some students overlook the needs students have,” he said, “in particular, of international students and other students who may not have a home to go to or cannot get home.”
Koch said he hopes SVSU keeps these services open “as long as it is absolutely possible to do so.”
“We know this is an evolving situation,” he said. “My stance has been that unless there is any sort of evidence to suggest it would be critical to close those facilities, then we would be opposed to closing dining and housing options.”
Koch said he understands students’ frustrations but hopes they keep perspective.
“There are some concerns that this may be an overblown problem,” he said. “If we look back in three, four, five months and say that we’ve overblown it, then we’re in the best-case scenario. It’s not bad to look back and see we may have overblown the situation. Just as experts say, though, there is a large line between caution and panic.”