Senators Junia Lee and Ahmad Altabaa from Student Government Association Student Senate authored Senate Resolution 56.14 regarding the need for further collaboration between Texas Tech, the Texas Tech System Health Policy and the Public Health Think Tank.

Senator Junia Lee, a second-year business management and pre-med double student from Flower Mound, said there is a need for continued collaboration between Texas Tech and public health think tanks.

“Since the Texas Tech University System is one of the largest systems in the state, that brings a lot of responsibility,” Lee said. “Because the campus and the system is so diverse, it would be ideal to bring in a public health think tank.”

The Tech Health Sciences Centers in Lubbock and El Paso both serve underrepresented and underserved groups, Lee said. The pandemic enlightened a lot of issues, such as not having infrastructure for easy access to personal protective equipment.

This think tank would bring conversation and connection between local leaders and healthcare providers and keep students in the loop on what happens, Lee said.

“We just don’t have a specific institution for PPE or conversation or connection with these groups,” Lee said. “So that’s what we wanted to do across this West Texas region and the university system as a whole.”

Public health think tanks have already had a positive impact on the Texas Tech and Lubbock community during the pandemic, Lee said. The think tank has made PPE for faculty in hospitals, distributed information about vaccines and suggested the vaccine incentive program to increase vaccination rates among Tech students.

Caden Harris, a third-year political science student from Austin, said he has some concerns about how Tech is handling the COVID-19 pandemic this semester.

“This semester, I think, is poor,” Harris said. “I mean, it’s has been running through the campus pretty hard, and last I heard, Lubbock’s vaccination rate wasn’t great, and also just Texas as a whole isn’t great. So I think they definitely should have stepped up.”

According to data provided by the City of Lubbock Health Department, 129,046 of the around 300,000 Lubbock residents are fully vaccinated as of Sept. 29.

Hayley Ott, a fourth-year political science student from Frisco, also joined in Harris’ sentiments about Tech not combating COVID-19 on campus.

“I mean, I think they’ve done a poor job,” Ott said. “And I think they need to take it much more seriously to even get back to the point where things can be normal again.”

Tech’s health policy doesn’t go far enough to protect students, Ott said.

“Most of the classes aren’t even offered to have hybrid, and you’re putting people at risk, that don’t even have a choice, you know, to be able to stay home or be online or whatever,” Ott said. “I actually got tested for COVID last week, and I had to way to go to class or even like, you know, sit in or try to call in or something like that, there was no response to helping that.”

Ott said she was supportive of the idea to implement a think tank of public health professionals to guide the Texas Tech system’s public health policy.

“The more professional people you have, the higher the likelihood of implementing masks or just stuff like that,” Ott said. “When it comes to health stuff, it should be professionals doing that decision making.”

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