Wayne State Student Senate discussed Campus Health Center updates and student engagement at its virtual meeting on Nov. 19.

Requests for COVID-19 tests, which are offered free to all members of the WSU community from the CHC, are at high levels, Chief Nursing Officer Toni Grant said. 

A record number of in-person visits and phone calls to the CHC for COVID-19 testing has been standard throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Grant said. 

Many students are currently contacting the center to get tested before going home for Thanksgiving break, said Madison Wiljanen, Senate Public Health chair. Students are only required to get tested when returning from break, but many are getting tested prior to avoid spreading COVID-19 to their loved ones.

Phones, voicemail and answering machine services for the CHC went down in October because of the high volume of calls, Grant said.

“On our peak days, we were receiving 900 calls,” Grant said. “We were receiving over 500 voicemail messages and we had exceeded over 1,200 answering service calls. So when individuals say ‘I tried calling and I couldn't get it and couldn't get anyone to answer the phones,’ it's because everybody was calling and because our clinic was not established to handle a pandemic.”

CHC expects to see 10,000 visitors by the end of their fourth quarter, the amount usually seen in a year, Grant said.

While WSU has not had a significant COVID-19 outbreak, there are protocols in place if one were to occur, Grant said. 

WSU’s plan of action includes continuation of quarantining in campus housing facilities, the closure of affected buildings and possible campus closure, Grant said. The plan depends on the severity of a potential outbreak.

The CHC is doing all it can to protect the health and safety of all students, Grant said. 

“We are there for you. I don't want you to think about us after this pandemic is over as the ‘COVID clinic,’” she said. “I want you to think of us as your health clinic, and whatever it is that we can do to keep you in good health for whatever you have and have those questions, just feel free to give us a call. Send us an email. We will respond.” 

Senate also discussed how to improve student engagement during the pandemic. 

Students have reported feeling isolated due to the absence of in-person classes and campus activities,which the Dean of Students Office is seeking to combat, Dean of Students David Strauss said.

Many students are not being adequately notified of virtual activities, said Legacee Mayes, a freshman at WSU. 

“If I knew about more things somehow, like if there was an email sent out to all freshmen, at least about like different clubs or anything, I feel like that could help,” Mayes said. “I feel like either more social media because, personally, I check my email a lot, but I also know that a lot of other people don't, which is why they missed the COVID testing deadlines and that kind of stuff.”

Finding better ways to connect with students safely next semester is a priority for DOSO, Strauss said.

“I don't think that in my office we've done a good job connecting with the student orgs,” he said. “How are you doing? What's working? What's not working? What can we help you with?”

The creation of a DOSO or WSU TikTok account was also suggested. Wiljanen said engaging with students on the platform would be a positive opportunity for WSU.

“People are on TikTok for like five and six hours a day and people get excited about making TikToks,” Wiljanen said. “I think (TikTok) would be a really easy way to get things out there.”

The next Student Senate will be held on Dec. 3 at 6 p.m.

Alanna Williams is a correspondent for The South End. She can be reached at featuresreportertse@gmail.com

Cover art by Guneet Ghotra, graphic designer for The South End. She can be reached at fz8387@wayne.edu.