ASG votes in favor of reimplementing weekly COVID-19 testing requirement


Daily file photo by Joanne Haner

Students meet at in-person Senate meeting. ASG approved legislation Wednesday to require weekly COVID-19 testing.

Iris Swarthout, Assistant Campus Editor

Associated Student Government voted Wednesday night to reimplement the weekly testing requirement for all students.

The legislation was introduced by Quest+ senator and Communication junior Jo Scaletty. They opened the discussion by stating last week’s 2.4% case positivity rate. Scaletty added the experiences of immunocompromised and disabled students should be considered when voting on the legislation.

“Reintroducing a testing requirement would protect vulnerable populations,” Scaletty said. “We did see a really sharp decline in the number of tests being taken from when we had the testing mandate to when we didn’t. We are still in a public health crisis.”

But Weinberg senator Lukas Cortes said if the legislation is implemented, the possibility of overcrowding Quarantine and Isolation housing in 1835 Hinman could create an avenue for disease spread. 

Cortes also said the mental health impacts of extended isolation need to be considered.

“I know some people who were in (Hinman) for a long time, more than they should have been because they were getting tested positive over and over again even after five days,” Cortes said. “I just hope that this body will recognize people who are mentally suffering as a result of getting tested positive asymptomatically (who then have to move) into Hinman.”

Senators at Wednesday’s meeting also voted in favor of adding an amendment that calls for the University to provide take-home tests as soon as they become available. It also asks administration to provide student reimbursement of at-home COVID-19 tests purchased at stores and provide test kit accessibility information for those looking to buy them, according to Multicultural Greek Council senator Javier Francisco Cuadra.

In considering the legislation as a whole, some members of ASG mentioned that the extremely high COVID-19 positivity rate during Wildcat Wellness accentuates the need for weekly testing. Others, like Chair of Communications Zai Dawodu, said student return from areas outside of Northwestern’s bubble warranted these heightened case numbers.

Scaletty added weekly testing would be a true indicator for how NU is doing COVID-wise now that students have returned from break and self-isolated sufficiently.

“If as a result of the tests … something like (high Wildcat Wellness case rates) happens again, that is a symptom of NU having a very big COVID problem that needs to be addressed urgently,” Scaletty said. “Without that evidence, we can’t actually address the problem.” 

The last time NU implemented a mandatory testing requirement was in spring 2021, when students had to submit two tests a week to avoid referrals to the Division of Student Affairs. Senate members debated whether changing the amendment to two days a week would be more effective.

ASG ultimately decided the amendment would require only a weekly test, but Cortes said testing once a week will not provide enough data for identifying COVID-19 positivity rates.

Still, Cuadra said that some data on campus positivity rates is better than none.

“It may not be 100% accurate, but not everything needs to be dichotomous,” Cuadra said.

The approved legislation will now move to the executive board, who will discuss it with administrators within the coming weeks. Administration then decides whether to implement ASG’s suggestions. 

And though some individuals are less worried about experiencing severe side-effects of COVID-19, Cuadra said the possibility of variant mutations worries him.

“My biggest concern is that with more spread means the more likely that there’s going to be a mutation in COVID-19,” Cuadra said. “I personally self-isolate as much as I can even though we’re still in a good spot.” 

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Twitter: @swarthout_iris

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