Schulz answers GPSA’s questions about COVID-19 policies

Health care concerns addressed; Athletics budget expected to have balanced budget next year

WSU+President+Kirk+Schulz+said+the+Athletics+budget+is+expected+to+be+balanced+next+summer+during+a+GPSA+meeting+Monday+night.+

ANISSA CHAK

WSU President Kirk Schulz said the Athletics budget is expected to be balanced next summer during a GPSA meeting Monday night.

ALEX MCCOLLUM, Evergreen reporter

President Kirk Schulz addressed the GPSA Senate and answered questions from senators during a Monday night meeting.

COVID-19

Jocelyn McKinnon-Crowley, senator for the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, said she had concerns over students following mask policies, future COVID-19 related guidelines and the new omicron variant. 

She said there has not been consistent guidance on reprimanding students for violating policies. 

WSU administration plans to continue messaging students about safety guidelines next semester, Schulz said. There are still expectations for behavior from students, like continuing to wear masks inside. Students will also still be required to be fully vaccinated.

Schulz said WSU is committed to in-person learning experiences for students; there are no current plans to return to an online learning format.

When making decisions for WSU, Schulz said his job is to support everybody. He must examine how changes in policy will affect everyone and not prioritize specific groups, like undergraduate students or graduate students, over one another.

Health insurance

Senator-at-large Rainier Peters and Behnaz Molaei, representative for the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences and chair of awards and scholarship, said they are concerned about the costs of health insurance for graduate students. Plant pathology senator Samodya Jayasinghe said graduate students do not qualify for staff health insurance.

There are discussions to develop an emergency fund graduate students can access when they cannot afford to pay their deductible, Schulz said. There is a lot of work that would have to be done to establish a fund like this.

WSU Athletics budget

Summer Lockhart, senator for the School of the Environment, said she was concerned about the athletic budget and how it compares to budgeting in other areas. The school also has a $200 million debt to pay back over the next 20 years.

July 2022 will mark the first year in recent history that the athletics department will have a balanced budget, Schulz said. There are two areas of debt for the athletic department: facilities and internal lending to cover paying back facility debts.

Administration will start working on plans to pay back that debt early in the spring semester. The $200 million debt is not just from the athletics department but also bonds the university must pay back on a regular basis.