President Astrid S. Tuminez addressed Utah Valley University’s student body over Instagram live during the “Talk with Tuminez” event on Monday, Nov. 9. This was the third “talk with Tuminez” held by the president to speak to students on what is happening in the university. Tuminez addressed students’ questions and concerns about covid, Spring 2021 semester, tuition costs, and what the future might hold for wolverines.
First, the president spoke about Gov. Gary Herbert’s address to the public that took place on Sunday evening considering the COVID-19 outbreak in Utah. She encouraged students to continue to take the precautions outlined by COVID-19 health officials, such as wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands and avoiding large social gatherings. She also stated that the university plans to “ramp up testing” using four different testing locations on campus. The method of COVID-19 testing used on campus is now a swab, and they will no longer have to do a tissue sample test. She assured students that testing is very quick and accessible, and encouraged students to be tested.
There will also be testing available to the public at the UCCU Center on November 11th and 18th by appointment only. Tuminez reminded students that masks will be required on campus until informed otherwise.
The next portion of the address was dedicated to a Q&A portion. Questions were submitted by students on instagram.
“Why aren’t there more in person classes scheduled for the Spring 2021 semester?”
Tuminez answered by saying that the university listens to scientists and health officials when making decisions for the future of the university during the pandemic. Although more classes are moving online, Tuminez stated that “We are 45 percent face to face in the spring,” meaning that 45 percent of classes during the spring semester will be face to face.
Face to face classes on campus will all continue to be recorded for students all throughout the spring semester. Tuminez described COVID-19 as a “moving target,” and more will be decided as we move throughout the year.
The next question was about the cost of attending UVU. Many students have reported feeling disappointed with online school, and have spoken out with concerns on why tuition costs have not lowered. The president thanked the students for their patience and explained that UVU strives to give students the best quality of education possible. She broke down the costs of attending UVU, explaining that tuition costs are used to pay instructors, faculty, staff, and fund technology developments.
Tuition costs have risen because the need for more instructors and technology has risen with the transition to hybrid classes. She stated that these costs cannot easily be cut without compromising the quality of education provided to students. Tuminez encouraged students to reach out to the financial aid office to ask for help, and to apply for the new scholarships that were introduced this semester.
These scholarships include the “Green Light” scholarship, which covers the gap between pell grants and tuition costs, and the “Reach” scholarship, which is intended for students who are close to graduation with something preventing them from finishing their degree.
“What is UVU doing to continue to support diversity in its students, faculty and staff?”
In response, Tuminez listed some of the services offered on campus for diversity and inclusion, including the multicultural student services, the Latino initiative, the Black Student Union and many other groups, which provide leadership opportunities, academic help and a number of other services for all students. Every college at UVU has an inclusion plan, and UVU offers a “foundations of inclusion workshop,” a faculty training program on what inclusion and diversity means and how to achieve it at UVU. She also explained that UVU has clubs and organizations specifically for students who are black, indiginous and people of color. UVU health services are also working towards hiring a counselor for LGBTQ+ students.
“What are some positive steps UVU is taking to be a leader in our community?”
Tuminez responded, “having a community college and a teaching university allows us to offer a range of options to students of all sizes, shapes, colors, levels of preparation, and desire to attend school. We are very inclusive that way, and we are a leader in that sense.” She also commented on how UVU is succeeding, with August graduation being the largest one in UVU history. UVU currently has a degree completion rate of 36%, and President Tuminez encouraged students to raise that number.
She ended the address with a message to students, “Ask for help when you need it, please demand help as you need it, don’t be shy, own your education, believe in yourself, believe that you can do it.”