Academic and operational changes at UW–Madison due to the COVID-19 pandemic came quickly this year, leaving students wondering where and how they could best provide feedback on campus decisions. In November, Student Affairs worked with the Associated Students of Madison to formalize student input through a new undergraduate student advisory board.
“It’s important that students have a formal channel through which they can offer input on COVID-related decisions that directly affect them,” said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor, noting that student input during the summer and fall came from established student groups, but none were focused exclusively on pandemic-related decisions. “We want to be sure we’re addressing the right concerns and tapping into the best ideas, particularly with new testing protocols this spring.”
The ad hoc student advisory board on COVID-19 is a group of 12 students led by ASM Vice Chair Aerin Leigh Lammers. Students were invited to apply for positions on the board, which was structured to represent diverse viewpoints. Its members include housefellows and students in University Housing and fraternity and sorority life, first-year students and seniors, international and historically underrepresented students, among others.
“There are a lot of different ideas on how the pandemic should be handled on campus, so it was important for us to establish this group through a shared governance process that would make it accessible and transparent to students,” Lammers said. “Administrators overall have been open to our input, but our whole job is to advocate for students. We want to be sure as many student voices as possible are heard and considered in planning for spring semester.”
The group began meeting in November and will continue to do so on a weekly basis throughout winter break and into spring semester to provide advice on COVID-related plans. Its members will discuss a variety of topics, including testing and contact tracing, incentives, the Safer Badgers app, and student-centered marketing and communications.
Lammers said students can get in touch with the advisory board members by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Provost’s Office is collaborating with the Graduate School Dean’s Advisory Board for graduate student input into spring planning.
Find more information on spring 2021 plans at covidresponse.wisc.edu.