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Statement from Student Government Association

August 28, 2020

Dear Fellow Students,

Throughout the summer, the administration, staff, and faculty dedicated themselves to the extraordinary task of finding a safe way for students to return. Between hours of discussion, challenging decisions, and unpredictable circumstances, they have successfully laid out guidelines, policies, and expectations that will mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at Augustana.

Over the past few weeks, we have seen colleges and universities switch to all online classes and move students out of on-campus housing because of the spread of COVID-19. Despite detailed and comprehensive policies, the defining variable in these colleges’ closures has been student choices. At all of these closed institutions, it was the student’s individual decisions that led to the spread of the virus on campuses.

The choices of a few students can create negative consequences for an entire campus community, a phenomenon that Augustana is no exception to.

Now more than ever, we must consider how our individual actions impact more than just ourselves. Going to bars, house parties, and even gatherings on the Quad without distancing and masks endangers us all. Not only do we risk closing the Augustana campus, but we risk students’ opportunities for success, the livelihoods of faculty and staff, and the health of immunocompromised individuals who are intertwined with our community.

Your decisions matter. Do not let your decision be the decision that sends us home. We all want to keep the campus open. We all want to stay safe. And we all want life to return to normal, so that we can have a complete college experience.

The future is up to us. We influence whether we can stay or whether we go home. Our decisions, our choices, and our actions will determine our next semester. If we choose to properly wear face masks, to maintain six feet distance, to not host or attend parties or gatherings, to limit ourselves to groups of ten, and to wash our hands, we can make this happen. We can be the college that makes national news, not because we closed, but because we succeeded in staying open. 

Each of us must do our part and commit ourselves to the common good. It is on us, the students, to do our part and to respectfully hold each other accountable. We should strive to uphold our community’s values of compassion, kindness, and respect for one another. Every single one of our decisions should align with our community values. If our decisions do not, we are risking so much for ourselves and others in the Augustana community.

In these challenging times, we also acknowledge that there can be a toll on the mental and emotional health of members of our community. We encourage everyone to make use of mental health resources and to care for, check in with, and support each other.

Our fate is in our own hands. Let us have hope that Augustana can be different. Let us have confidence that we can work together to make this possible. And let us have trust that as one family, we can have a wonderful college experience.

Sincerely,

Kaitlyn Watkins, President

Peyton Couch, Vice-President

Russell McNab, Chief of Staff

Sofia Briggs, Treasurer

Olivia Smith, Secretary

Carl Frasor, Speaker of the Senate

Isabelle Jordan, Sophomore Senator

Vanessa Silva, Sophomore Senator

Jillian Clifton, Junior Senator

Katie Iverson, Senior Senator

Caleb Gruden, Humanities Senator

Lauren Palmer, Cultural Studies Senator

Etta Brooks, Social Science Senator

Michael Tarchala, Fine Arts Senator

Iva Vucic, STEM Senator

Jason Gluzkin, Business Senator

Alexander Anderson, SLPB Senator

Caleb Minnis, MPB Senator

Darlington Sehgbean, International Senator

Virgil Ngo, International Senator