A townhall meeting was held during the Franciscan University Student Government’s meeting April 14 so student senators could ask the president of Franciscan University of Steubenville about COVID-19 and other points of interest on campus.
In response to several questions, the Rev. Dave Pivonka, TOR, university president, said that COVID-19 numbers are higher than they were last week and in November of last semester, leading to the possibility of closing campus early.
Pivonka said that Austria will open April 23, but there is a chance that the country will require visa holders to be vaccinated.
Pivonka’s response to this policy is to shorten the time spent abroad so visas and their subsequent vaccinations are likely to not be required for the Fall 2021 semester.
“If Austria requires a vaccination, then students will have to make a decision whether or not they want to go in the fall or the spring,” said Pivonka.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has suggested making vaccines available on all university campuses, a suggestion that has been declined by Franciscan, the only university in the state to have done so.
Pivonka said that he is working with the biology department, the state and the county concerning COVID-19 policies and following guidelines, but that he hopes to remove restrictions as soon as possible.
“I’m ready for this to be over, but I think it’s pretty important to bear in mind how much we’ve been blessed,” Pivonka said, referencing how other schools have more restrictions than Franciscan.
Addressing a question concerning drug and alcohol abuse by underage students off and on campus, Pivonka said that students often voluntarily engage themselves in harmful activity that is out of the friars’ control.
However, if students raise more awareness about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse around campus and reach out to the friars, Pivonka and his brothers will help them.
“The reality is that that population is not coming to my office and we need you guys to help us with that access so we can be with them and talk to them,” Pivonka said.
FUSG President Athanasius Sirilla said he would like Franciscan to have more opportunuties for outside organizations to host their events or camps on campus.
Pivonka responded that one way to involve the community is reaching out to a theater in downtown Steubenville that is currently being remodeled to ask if Franciscan can use the space 60 days a year.
Pivonka said, “The more we can interact and be dependant with each other (Franciscan and the Steubenville community) — I think there are advantages to that.”
Pivonka thanked FUSG for the work that they do and the leadership skills FUSG possesses.