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MU Faculty Council Discusses COVID-19 Dashboard, Ongoing Discrimination On Campus

MU’s COVID-19 dashboard and a proposed statement about the fifth anniversary of the 2015 protests topped the issues presented at Thursday’s MU Faculty Council meeting.

The council discussed a resolution on making the MU COVID-19 dashboard more transparent by adding a few more data points, including the number of students living in Residential Life facilities who tested positive and the number of tests administered each day at each testing site.

Biological sciences professor Anand Chandrasekhar said that increased transparency would allow the campus community to be more informed of the situation around them. He also pointed out that the current dashboard only lists data from the previous three days.

“It would be helpful if the COVID dashboard could provide some information on the weekly and cumulative positive rates among the tests that are performed within University testing entities,” Chandrasekhar said. “We really have no information on how many tests are being conducted on campus.”

Among the other topics discussed was a drafted letter, “We Remember,” acknowledging the racism, sexism and inequities that prompted the protests of 2015. If approved by the council, the letter would promise a continued dedication to ensuring diversity, equity and inclusion on campus, and states that complacency toward the status quo is unacceptable.

Two amendments to the letter were offered, which aimed to recognize the ongoing discrimination members of campus face for their religious beliefs, and that MU is still censured by the American Association of University Professors due to “inappropriate administrative actions surrounding the events of the Fall of 2015.”

Rebecca Graves, chair of the Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Committee, asked members of the council to send in additional amendments prior to Oct. 15, when a vote on a final version of the letter will occur.

The council also discussed a letter from the Associated Students of the University of Missouri asking that it support calls for relaxed attendance, cancelled or otherwise asynchronous class on Election Day. The letter said that the measure would help students vote and serve as poll workers, a role traditionally filled by elderly volunteers, but complicated this year by COVID-19 concerns.

Some faculty members expressed support for the letter, citing the value of a nonpartisan effort to encourage students to participate in the election. One member found the idea unnecessary. The discussion will continue prior to a vote on whether to support the letter’s request.

There are students “that have more to do than eat pizza and use their parents’ credit cards,” who may have other responsibilities outside of class, April Langley, a member of the Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Committee, said. She pointed to students with multiple jobs, and those with children to take care of.

“A lot of things have impacted the students’ ability to actually even vote, beyond the poll-working, so I want us to think of this as something serious,” Langley said.