USG Senate discusses new therapy program, Uyghur genocide and pass/fail deadline extension

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On Wednesday night, the University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government Senate discussed a new Talkspace Therapy pilot program for students, along with their stances regarding the Uyghur genocide and solidarity with the UConn Muslim Student Association, and their hopes to encourage an extension of the pass/fail initiative for the fall 2020 semester. Photo by Eric Wang/ Daily Campus.

The University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government Senate discussed the implementation of a pilot therapy program for all undergraduate students at UConn next semester, a statement of position regarding misinformation of Uyghur genocide in China and pass/fail extension deliberations for the fall 2020 semester at its meeting Wednesday night. 

First, USG talked about the spring 2021 implementation of a pilot program through Talkspace Therapy in an effort to provide students with more mental health resources.  

Talkspace is an online and mobile therapy application, that allows users to speak with licensed therapist through the website or mobile app, on IOS and Android. According to the article, USG is considering the implementation of a pilot program through Talkspace Therapy, in an effort to provie students with more mental health resources. Photo courtesy of Talkspace Online Therapy website.

This program will provide a mental health assessment, a personalized therapist match, asynchronous therapy via text, audio and video messaging and a clinical insights library, as well as interactive surveys and progress goal tools. 

The Senate tentatively voted to adopt the Talkspace Premium Plus plan, which would provide students with two live video therapy sessions a month for a three-month plan. This pilot plan will be used to track student engagement in the program and will influence what program is used in the future.  

The USG Senate also passed legislation to approve a statement of position on misinformation of Uyghur genocide in China. This comes in response to a UConn Muslim Student Association petition to condemn genocide in China, as well as to reassess deals with companies that allegedly use Uyghur labor.  

“The Undergraduate Student Government supports UConn’s MSA in their call on UConn to uphold its values and honor the commitments to human rights it has made,” the legislation stated. 

“The Undergraduate Student Government supports UConn’s MSA in their call on UConn to uphold its values and honor the commitments to human rights it has made.”

Undergraduate Student Government

UConn MSA’s petition demands “the University use its platform to publicly condemn this dangerous behavior and condemn the entire genocide … We are calling on UConn to uphold their values and honor the commitments to human rights they have made.” 

In addition, the USG Senate also voted to direct the chief diversity officer of USG to open an investigation into the Chinese Scholars and Students Association to determine if emails sent out by the organization constitute a violation of the Student Bill of Rights.  

Finally, the USG Senate relayed comments about the University Senate’s upcoming decision on pass/fail. USG Academic Affairs Director Katherine Spinnato commented that she did not believe the University Senate would likely change its mind on changing pass/fail policy other than extending the deadline. 

“I would just like to make it clear that their minds are essentially made up. They want to know our opinion, but our opinion probably won’t change their minds,” said Spinnato. 

The two items discussed on the agenda were the addition of a COVID-19 notation to appear on withdrawn courses as well as extending the pass/fail deadline for elective courses only.  

USG Comptroller Fabio Saccomanno spoke in favor of both proposed measures, noting the importance of both measures in order to alleviate academic stress during the current pandemic. 

“They should do right by us and put us at ease because we’ve all been through so much and you know what, professors have as well. I don’t see how either of these policies harm UConn as an institution or harm its integrity and for that reason I hope they side with us.” 

Fabio Saccomanno, Undergraduate Student Government Comptroller

“I hope that the University Senate sympathizes, I hope they hear this point, I hope someone writes about it, I hope they listen to a recording, I hope they hear our voices,” Saccomanno said. “They should do right by us and put us at ease because we’ve all been through so much and you know what, professors have as well. I don’t see how either of these policies harm UConn as an institution or harm its integrity and for that reason I hope they side with us.” 

After discussions finished, the USG Senate concluded its final bi-weekly meeting of the fall semester and will reconvene starting in the spring 2021 semester.  

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