Faculty Senate calls for transparency on HVAC upgrades – The GW Hatchet

The Faculty Senate has a solution On Friday, officials urged to release more information about the status of HVAC upgrades made to campus buildings to block the spread of the coronavirus, after they said administrators have been spreading “misinformation” about ongoing maintenance.

The resolution, which passed with one abstention and one vote against, calls on the university to provide a list of campus buildings and their corresponding level of alignment with expert guidelines with the GW community. The resolution comes after officials released a statement in June indicated updates to GW’s HVAC systems were complete — but senators said in the resolution two Senate committees were told otherwise in a confidential presentation with Scott Burnotes, the vice president of safety and facilities.

Eric Grynaviski, a faculty senator and member of the Senate physical amenities committee, said officials should follow the precedent set by former university president Steven Knapp, who provided data to the Senate about the state of the state during his own presidency. campus infrastructure. But he said this was at a time when HVAC upgrades were not a primary concern, prior to the pandemic.

“So when we ask for the comprehensive review, we’re only asking for things that are traditionally provided to the Faculty Senate,” he said. “This is, of course, information that the Faculty Senate is entitled to, as it is essential to the university’s teaching, teaching and research mission.”

Grynaviski said officials should disclose this information to the GW community so students, faculty and staff who are immunocompromised, have relatives who are immunocompromised, or have not been vaccinated can decide what precautions to take.

“It’s important for individuals like myself who have unvaccinated children at home and are concerned about bringing the virus home or people who have a spouse or relatives when certain types of health problems for the virus can be particularly dangerous for them,” he said. . .

Grynaviski also showed a photo during the meeting of an office in the American study building with an air-conditioning unit with mold “dripping” along the wall.

“So there are visible signs that the university didn’t conduct the study or do the job, especially the inspections of the air filters they said they did,” he said.

Several students evacuated from Townhouse Row last Sunday visited the hospital with symptoms linked to mold exposure after officials discovered “biological growth” in the buildings. Dozens of students have also found mold in nearly 10 residential halls on campus, with some also visiting the hospital for symptoms that appear to be linked to mold exposure.

Phil Wirtz, a faculty senator and professor of decision science and psychology, said neither Chief Financial Officer Mark Diaz nor LeBlanc have signed on to the university’s recent announcements regarding updates to GW’s HVAC systems.

He said the apparent lack of oversight may have contributed to the “miscommunication.” He said an “extra pair of eyes” may have clarified officials’ statements.

“We still got into buildings that aren’t up to speed,” Wirtz said. “There has been a serious miscommunication – and let’s leave it at that – that has actually led to the hospitalization of some of the people for whom we are fundamentally responsible as our primary responsibility.”

More than 70 members of the GW community have faced mold growth and water leaks in campus buildings after returning to personal activities this semester — including multiple professors in Building GG, which houses the psychology department. More than 10 psychology professors and graduate students complained about sewer pipe bursts, mold and vermin in 2019, demanding a new building.

Miriam Galston, a faculty senator and an associate professor of law, said at the meeting that Burnotes, the vice president of safety and facilities, told her he was unaware that Building GG was being used as a classroom.

Interim provost Chris Bracey has provided an update on how the university is handling the COVID-19 pandemic, saying students have reported “some” complaints about non-compliance with faculty masks, such as wearing masks incorrectly. over the nose and giving instructions without masks within two meters of students. He added that students have reported feeling “uncomfortable” about teachers teaching without masks as they walk around the classroom.

The university currently allows teachers to teach without masks in a classroom if they are more than two meters away from students. Bracey said officials have developed an “assessment, tracking and enforcement process” that will allow for “escalation” of repeat offenders as a result of the complaints.

“I encourage all of you to remind your colleagues to adhere to the mask mandate during class because the students are paying attention,” he said.

Bracey said Disability Support Services has contacted and provided certain faculties with clear masks to wear for classes with students with hearing or communication difficulties. He added that speech enhancers are available from GW Information Technology in Rome Hall for teachers who teach in large rooms and may need more help making their voices heard while wearing a mask.

He said officials have also distributed masks to all schools and deans, who will then distribute them to all academic departments on campus.

Bracey said the Campus COVID support team, which is responsible for tracing GW’s contacts, will give the faculty an “informative” notification, but will not notify all students if someone in the class tested positive for the coronavirus.

He said CCST will only inform close contacts about exposure because the positive student may not have been in a classroom during relevant periods, not everyone in the class may have been near the student, and the student can identify those who “close ” would be. contacts.” He said this process allows CCST to focus its resources on those most likely to be exposed and in close contact.

“Not every person in every class will be contacted about a potential exposure, but every faculty member will be informed that someone in the class has tested positive,” he said.

Bracey also provided an update on the university’s enrollment, saying the freshman class currently has a total of 2,585 students, “right on track” with officials’ estimates and up 30 percent from last year. He said that while only 44 percent of freshmen submitted a SAT or ACT score due to the coronavirus pandemic, that stopped personal exams, their academic profile remains “strong” and “consistent” with the past two classes.

Bracey said the university registered a total of 25,983 students on the first day of class, with about 6,500 residential students living on campus this semester. He said first-year enrollment and retention rates have risen this year, with the retention rate improving from 88 percent to 91 percent from year one to year two.

“We saw a slight increase in the number of new first-generation, low-income and traditionally underrepresented students,” he says. “A number of schools have slightly increased their undergraduate and graduate enrollments this year compared to the fall of 2020.”

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