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University Senate Holds First Meeting of the Spring Semester

by Erin Lawlor

The Montclair State University Senate had its first meeting of the spring 2022 semester on Wednesday, Jan. 26 to discuss some questions and concerns they have as the semester begins.

The meeting opened with a discussion about masks being worn on campus. The main focus was on students not abiding by university rules like wearing masks in buildings. Stephanie Spitz, the department administrator for art and design, had another concern.

“I have seen many faculty and staff in Cole Hall not wearing their masks,” Spitz said. “They are supposed to be setting a precedent for students. If they’re not wearing masks, students will think, ‘Why should [I]?’”

Others inquired about what kinds of masks should be worn.

Arnold Korotkin, a social work and child advocacy professor, mentioned that across the state Walgreens and Rite Aid will be giving out free KN95 masks to anyone who wants one, and thinks the university should strongly advise students and staff to go out and get one.

Dawn Soufleris, the vice president for student development and campus life, had a different view. She said the university should not be policing the kinds of masks students wear and that she would never want to put in writing that only a certain type is allowed.

Along with the discussion of masks, Jessica Brater, an assistant theatre and dance professor, touched on current quarantine guidelines and possible adjustments going forward.

“As of now, the procedure and timeline for quarantine is 10 days,” Brater said. “This cannot be revisited until the end of the semester when all students have had their booster shot.”

In addition, professors will receive a notification from the dean of students when a student is in quarantine. If the professor does not receive that email, that student can reach out to the dean asking for confirmation.

At the end of the meeting, the university senators voted on the Land Acknowledgment Statement. Their goal is to decolonize the campus and bring more attention to Lenape people and their displacement and dispossession.

Some things the university will implement in honor of the Lenapehoking are QR codes around campus that bring you to websites with more detailed information, a dedicated landscaped garden with a bench and framed prints in high traffic areas of Cole Hall. The Land Acknowledgment Statement will also be read at most university events including performing arts events, Senate meetings and more.

In addition to this, the Senate intends to collaborate with local tribal leaders and indigenous experts to continue this mission.

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