SGA Hosts Zoom Forum on COVID-19 Response

To ease student concerns regarding the pandemic, the Student Government Assembly hosted a Zoom forum with university leadership.

Zoe+Ragouzeos+and+Carlo+Ciotoli+speak+about+health+and+wellness+during+an+online+forum.+Earlier+this+month%2C+NYU+Student+Government+hosted+a+discussion+about+COVID-19+for+the+NYU+community.+%28Staff+Photo+by+Chelsea+Li%29

Chelsea Li

Zoe Ragouzeos and Carlo Ciotoli speak about health and wellness during an online forum. Earlier this month, NYU Student Government hosted a discussion about COVID-19 for the NYU community. (Staff Photo by Chelsea Li)

By Matthew Fischetti, Deputy News Editor

Last week, the Student Government Assembly held a joint online town hall with various university officials to answer students’ questions concerning COVID-19.

For students who are feeling overwhelmed by social distancing and self-quarantining, Health and Wellness Director Zoe Ragouzeous recommends to try and maintain a routine and utilize the teleservices in the health center.

“We live in a world where we get 24/7 access to information,“ Ragouzeous said. “Tune in and go to resources that are factual and well respected. Tune in, understand what is going on for the day and maybe you do not have to check anymore.” 

In a segment dedicated to resources for international students, Assistant Vice Chancellor of the Office of Global Services Sherif Barsoum said that students who have concerns about anything ranging from visa statuses to academic completion can be done through 120 new Zoom slots for advising sessions. 

Barsoum said approximately 90 students per day have already been using these 20-minute meetings to address their concerns. Given the shifting nature of immigration policies during the pandemic, Barsoum also emphasized that international students should closely read emails from the Office of Global Services as they will have the most up-to-date information regarding international student resources. 

“You know, but anybody who’s worked with an insurance company before knows insurance companies are pretty good at holding on to their money. But that being said, we’re a pretty good client. And so we’re hoping that they might show some flexibility,” Josh Taylor, Associate Vice Chancellor for the Office of Global Services, said in response to a question concerning whether students would get a refund for their US-based health insurance plans supplied through NYU.

Additionally, in a segment regarding emergency aid, Senior Vice President for Enrollment Management MJ Knoll-Finn said the Financial Aid Office has been receiving 800 to 1,000 emergency aid requests a day. 

$1.43 million was spent in the first week NYU offered emergency funding, which Knoll-Finn said makes up a large portion of the emergency aid fund for COVID-19-related expenses. Students received a response about their grant status in an average of 2.1 business days.  Emergency grants like this are provided to students for unforeseen costs burdened by the COVID-19 pandemic such as decreased income from a parent losing a job or passing away from the disease. Exact amounts provided to students are done on a case-by-case analysis by a Financial Aid counselor. 

While seniors won’t be able to graduate in Yankee Stadium this spring, Senior Vice President for University Relations and Public Affairs Lynne Brown has been working with the student activities board and other departments to still commemorate graduating seniors.

Two days prior to the town hall, the activities board launched a “50 seniors in 50 nights” program to profile one senior each day leading up to graduation and highlight their accomplishments. 

Brown added that the university is working on a program to send a box of items that would be shipped to seniors free of charge, so that it could be opened up on commencement day. The specific items included in the complimentary package will be announced on a later day via email to seniors. 

Assistant Vice President for Student Success Bernie Savarese said the university has already provided resources for over 200 students unable to complete their remote coursework by providing internet hotspots, letting students borrow computers and producing emergency grants to cover expenses. 

These resources are provided on a case-by-case basis and Savarese emphasized that any student who feels they are unable to complete remote coursework to the best of their ability should reach out to the Office of Student Success to see what options are available. 

“If for some reason, any individual student feels like this situation is causing them to be off-track where we’re having concerns about staying on track, please reach out to us,” Savarese said. “That’s why we’re here: to work with them one-on-one for [any kind of] situations.”

Email Matthew Fischetti at [email protected]