President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval addressed monkeypox information, Title IX task force updates, COVID-19 policies and mental health initiatives during an interview with The Collegian on Aug. 8.
Following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s state of emergency declaration on Aug. 1, Jiménez-Sandoval emphasized the need to educate students on how the virus is contracted and how to prevent its spread.
“In the news, there has been a lot of focus on the sexual contact [and] that primarily up to this point it has been sexual,” he said. “But moving forward… It’s not just that, it’s actually dermal contact. So it’s skin to skin.”
He noted that students should know what potential exposure signs look like, such as rashes and sores.
Currently, Jiménez-Sandoval said the university is focusing on providing ongoing information regarding the virus, and that if needed, the same safety precautions for infectious diseases will be implemented in the case of campus infection, including isolation periods for those infected with monkeypox.
“We are focused on information [first], and then in getting the county to have a vaccination site for monkeypox on campus as well, which they have confirmed that they’re very interested in having a vaccination site on campus for monkeypox,” he said.
In a campus-wide news release, Carolyn Coon, interim vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, said the current risk of monkeypox spreading in classrooms is “very low.”
“As of Aug. 10, there have been eight suspected cases of monkeypox in Fresno County. None have been reported among our campus community. The risk of transmission of monkeypox in the county remains low,” she said.
As of Aug. 17, 13 monkeypox cases have been reported in Fresno County, according to the Fresno County Department of Public Health.
Title IX task force updates
Jiménez-Sandoval announced the implementation of a Title IX task force in March, which has since met several times throughout the summer.
He said one part of the task force is to look into what resources are currently available at the university for those who submit a case and improve communication on what the timeline of a Title IX case may look like.
“How do we actually deal with issues? What are the cases? What type of cases have we had? How many cases have we [processed]? What have been the outcomes of these cases?” Jiménez-Sandoval said.
The president said raising awareness of the resources available at Fresno State will be a goal for the task force heading into the upcoming semester. He said he wants an “informative” and “transparent” system for Title IX.
“Our system currently works very well, but what we want is to see how the system is working and what changes we’re going to implement in order to improve the system that we have,” he said.
Currently, the task force has created subgroups to address priority areas regarding the Title IX process including prevention, education and training and policies and communication, according to the dean of undergraduate students Bernadette Muscat in a news release sent by University Communications in July 2022.
While many COVID-19-related regulations have been lifted at Fresno State, Jiménez-Sandoval said the university will continue to focus on limiting exposure on campus.
“What we are focusing on right now is how do we coexist with the virus primarily? How do we try to mitigate the spread of the virus? And then, how do we deal with issues once they do come up?” Jiménez-Sandoval said.
Cleaning supplies and masks will remain available for the campus community. Masks are not required after the campus mask mandate was lifted in March.
Fresno State will also shift from offering primarily PCR testing to antigen tests in order to “get [a] better sense of where we are as a campus on the day of,” according to Jiménez-Sandoval.
PCR tests will be made available in a vending machine located in the COVID-19 Testing Center on the main floor of the University Student Union (USU) and the Student Health and Counseling Center (SHCC) for all faculty, staff and students, according to Jiménez-Sandoval.
A Fresno State ID card will be required to obtain a PCR test at the vending machines. As of reporting, Jiménez-Sandoval said there is not currently a limit to how many tests can be obtained. The vending machine is currently operating for the fall semester.
At-home antigen tests can be picked up at the Student Health and Counseling Center, Library, USU and Housing Atrium.
The COVID-19 Testing Center will be open Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. to provide staff-monitored rapid antigen tests. Test results will be emailed within 30 to 40 minutes, according to the Fresno State COVID-19 website.
Campus mental health
Due to the impact of COVID-19 and the concern surrounding monkeypox, Jiménez-Sandoval said there will be an emphasis on campus regarding students’ mental health and raising awareness of resources at Fresno State.
“I remember that when I was a student, there was always the [uncertainty] of, ‘What will happen once I graduate? Will I land that job that I want to land? Will I have the career that I want to have…?’ Plus, on top of that you have COVID-19, plus on top of that, monkeypox,” he said.
He noted that the university is aiming to “reconfigure the sense of mental health,” and to move away from regarding it as a “deficiency.”
“Rather than that, saying, ‘I’m going to [care for my] mental health, for resources, for tools, for possibilities of how I’m going to be stronger, how am I going to focus more, and I’m going to get to know myself more so that I can actually be more successful in life,” Jiménez-Sandoval said.
Currently, the Alegría Mental Health Task Force, which was established in March 2021, plans to host social events in the fall semester to help students see what resources are available at the university.
One of these events is the monthly ice cream socials, which will be hosted by the task force on the second Tuesday each month this fall.