Senate Recap

Faculty Come to ASUN to Address their COVID-19 Concerns

Todd Ruecker, director of the Core Writing program, came to the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, Reno to address his COVID-19 concerns. He expressed deep concern for the university’s lack of COVID planning.

He shared comments from instructors and students who signed an open letter sent to UNR leadership. There are approximately 300 signatures on the letter with 100 of those coming from undergraduates, according to Ruecker.

Ruecker scrutinized the university for holding large events without any COVID safety measures. He questioned why the State of the University was not held online and said football games should have mask and vaccine requirements. 

Ruecker added he is concerned about the lack of testing and tracing being done across campus.

“Other students have had to miss class to get tested because of limited appointment times,” Ruecker said while citing the open letter. “Some are having to drive to the airport to pay $60.”

Another concern is the pressure to keep classes in person with no information on online instruction when COVID cases are present. He cited a student who claimed that her journalism course was not moved online until there were 25 positive cases within three weeks. 

Ruecker mentioned a comment from a student included in the open letter who believes “the real situation of COVID is not being reflected on campus.”

Leah Prescott, doctoral student and graduate research assistant in the Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology department, came to ASUN to address similar concerns. Her signature can also be found on the open letter. 

She claimed that students in the graduate program have been meeting regularly to discuss their COVID concerns.

“This semester many of us continue to share concerns over access to testing, clearer policies, improved reporting, and increased contact tracing,” said Prescott.

Prescott claimed that some students have continued to come to class after exposure due to unclear policies. She urged campus leadership to increase testing and enforce clearer policies.

The policies that garner the most confusion are the ones in regards to vaccinated individuals. One policy states that fully vaccinated individuals are only required to quarantine if they develop symptoms, while another policy states that they must quarantine regardless of whether or not they are symptomatic.

Thacker Pass Legislation and Student Minimum Wage Legislation Get Referred to Committees

Two pieces of legislation received their first reading at the Senate Meeting

The first was written in support of protecting the Thacker Pass and in opposition to Lithium America’s current plans to acquire 17,933 acres of land and create an open pit for lithium mining within that area.

ASUN opposes Lithium America’s plan due to the location—the Peehee Mu’huh is sacred land located in Thacker Pass that belongs to the Northern Paiute and Western Shoshone Natives.

The legislation was passed along to the Committee on Safety, Sustainability, and Wellness, as well as the Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

A Resolution to Raise the Minimum Wage for Student Workers was written to raise the wages of student workers on campus.

According to legislation, on-campus workers are only paid 85 percent of the minimum wage in Nevada, which is $9.75. 

The legislation also stated that students are the population’s most financially vulnerable, and urged the university to raise the minimum wage to meet the current state minimum wage.

A motion was created to pass this piece through the Committee on Academics and Student Affairs. All were in favor except for Senator Leslie Ramirez, the Chair of the Committee on Budget and Finance. 

Senator Ramirez said it should pass through the Committee on Budget and Finance. A second motion was created to pass the legislation through both committees. 

Secretarial Duties Are Amended within the SAS 

An Act to Amend the Statutes of the Associated Students for the Inclusion of New Secretarial Duties was presented to the ASUN senate for its second reading.

The legislation was presented as a procedural process to further clarify the roles of the Senate Secretary and Legislative Clerk, with the addition of a new position: Senior Secretary.

Two new duties were added to the Secretary. The first is to hold regular meetings with the committee secretaries, the Legislative Clerk, and the Senior Secretary. The second is to be the keeper of incomplete minutes.

The Legislative Clerk was absolved of the duties to fill in for the Senate Secretary if absent and those duties were then passed to the Senior Secretary.

The legislation was proposed as something uncontroversial because it only affects two people within the Senate.

Sandy Rodriguez, director of the Center for Student Engagement, questioned if the role of the senior secretary would have to be sworn in because they would have to assume the roles of the senate secretary if absent.

Rodriguez claimed that the current senate secretary has to be sworn in because they swear in the officers, the senate secretary responded by stating that they were never sworn in.

The motion was unanimously passed.

Emerson Drewes can be reached at or via Twitter @NevadaSagebrush