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The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs met in a hybrid format in the Ruthven Building on Monday to discuss faculty representation, long COVID-19 and the transfer of three units between colleges at the University of Michigan-Flint campus. 

SACUA chair Silvia Pedraza, LSA professor of sociology, explained her experience at the new student convocation event for the incoming students, which took place on Aug. 28, and suggested that faculty should also be included in the introduction.

“(At) this (convocation) we had speeches from the president, from the provost, and also from the enrollment manager, of all things, but not from the faculty,” Pedraza said. “I think that the faculty should also be introduced to the students at this new student orientation.”

Lucas McCarthy, the recently appointed Faculty Senate Office director, shared a conversation he had with Brian Vasher, the senior director in the Benefits Office, about long COVID-19 and its impact on insurance coverage. According to McCarthy, Vasher told him that his office has not received any issues with denied insurance coverage.

“Vasher) said as far as U-M benefits, there is coverage for COVID and any of its variants, but also for symptoms that are receiving medical treatment, whether or not it’s been diagnosed (as) COVID,” McCarthy said. “So the big thing is that there does just need to be a medical professional who has looked at this and is following traditional medicine in order to reach some sort of treatment.”

According to the World Health Organization, long COVID-19 refers to prolonged or persistent COVID-19 symptoms lasting at least 90 days following the onset of COVID-19 symptoms among SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals. Long COVID-19 has been found to predominantly affect women, Hispanics and low-income Michiganders, according to a University study. 

SACUA then discussed a recent decision to shift departments on the U-M Flint campus. During the June Board of Regents meeting, the Board approved transferring the computer science, engineering and physics departments from the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) to the College of Innovation and Technology (CIT) on the U-M Flint campus. However, in an August 11 letter to the administration, SACUA faculty members say they felt that the decision to transfer these departments was rushed and lacked public awareness. The Michigan Daily obtained copies of the letter.

“The transfer occurred with hardly any public knowledge within UM-Flint,” the letter addressed to U-M administration read. “It seems that the only people outside of CIT who were aware that this change was mooted were the Provost, Chancellor, and select members of faculty in the three departments. No members of any other departments knew, and even the Interim Dean of CAS was blindsided. There was no public administrative analysis of the reasons for this action at the time, and none has been forthcoming since.”

Daily Staff Reporter Marlee Sacksner can be reached at marleeis@umich.edu