The Badger Herald Editorial Board deemed these stories important to watch during the spring 2021 semester.

UW’s revised pandemic response

The Story —

Erin Gretzinger/The Badger Herald

After a rough start to the fall semester featuring the closing of the Sellery and Witte dorms as well as a shift to online classes for a two-week period in September, the University of Wisconsin largely figured out community spread issues with increased testing and more stringent safety measures including social distancing and masks on the UW campus.

Over the course of the fall semester and winter break, UW administrators worked on adopting a new COVID-19 plan used at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the fall. The new plan, which was gradually rolled out over the course of December and January, features twice-weekly saliva testing for students living in Madison. The plan also implements the use of the new Safer Badgers app, which tracks proximity to other students using Bluetooth and denies entry to campus buildings without a recent negative COVID-19 test.

What to watch for

With many students complaining about the use of saliva testing compared to the nasal swab testing used last semester, it will be interesting to see how COVID-19 on the UW campus plays out this semester. Watch for changes in how UW administration handles COVID-19 testing and in-person classes, especially with some students and faculty beginning to receive doses of the COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer.

Once released, COVID vaccine must become mandatory for all UW studentsTwo U.S. vaccine trials have reported success rates of over 90% this past week. As COVID-19 cases spike with approximately 11 Read…

District 8 Alder Race

Abriela Thiel/The Badger Herald

The Story —

After it was announced current District 8 Alder Max Prestigiacomo would not be running for reelection this spring, two UW students submitted their candidacy for the Common Council seat, which represents nearly all of campus and some surrounding neighborhoods. 

The two students — Juliana Bennett and Ayomi Obuseh — both have impressive backgrounds as activists, with Bennett a co-founder of the UW BIPOC Coalition and Obuseh a longtime advocate for marginalized groups, as well as a co-founder of the youth-led activist group Impact Demand.

Bennett has stated that as a District 8 Alder, it is incredibly important to bring in all students into the conversation, especially students from marginalized backgrounds. This point is also reflected in Obuseh’s candidacy, as she cites her experience with Impact Demand for helping her realize innovative ideas to bring to the Council.

What to watch for

It will be interesting to see how the two candidates debate UW’s most pressing issues, such as the campus COVID-19 response and especially the treatment of BIPOC on campus. Though their platforms prioritize similar relevant issues, considering Prestigiacomo ran unopposed for his seat, debate between Bennett and Obuseh will surely highlight how different students believe UW should address these topics. While it’s clear both candidates are more than qualified and strongly connected to the campus and Madison community, it’s all the more important to follow their respective platforms closely.

The danger of the status quo: How Wisconsin institutions maintain white supremacyAug. 25, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse illegally carried weapons across state lines from Illinois to Wisconsin. He showed up at a Read…

Wisconsin’s vaccine rollout

The Story —

UW Health pharmacy tech Nikolas Gardner transfers vaccine with other pharmacy techs Amy Schultz (left) and Susan Johnston (right).
Photo by John Maniaci, courtesy of UW Health

With approval from the FDA, thousands of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are in Wisconsin and ready for use, but that doesn’t mean the vaccines are in Wisconsinites. To the frustration of many, the vaccine rollout has been a slow process. To date, only five percent of the state has been vaccinated since doses of the vaccine became available in early December 2020. 

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, those vaccinated so far include front line workers in group 1A — front line health care personnel and residents in skilled nursing and long term care facilities. The state recently transitioned into phase 1B of the rollout, allowing for police and firefighters to receive the vaccine. Future Phase 1B eligible populations include adults ages 65 and over starting Jan. 25. The State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee has made additional recommendations for other Phase 1B priority populations, which is expected to be finalized soon.

What to watch for

Still, with nearly 800,000 doses of the vaccine allocated to the state by the federal government, and 473,000 of those doses ordered for vaccine providers, many Wisconsinites are still wondering — how long until I get the vaccine?

Once released, COVID vaccine must become mandatory for all UW studentsTwo U.S. vaccine trials have reported success rates of over 90% this past week. As COVID-19 cases spike with approximately 11 Read…

Biden’s first 100 days

Shane Fruchterman/The Badger Herald

The Story —

After being sworn in as the 46th President this past Wednesday, Jan. 20, it is already abundantly clear Biden’s presidency will do anything but parallel Trump’s. From day one, he has signed several executive orders undoing those of the previous administration, including stopping the U.S. withdrawal from the W.H.O. and reversing Trump’s ban on passport holders from predominantly Muslim countries.

In his first days in office, Biden signed a comprehensive COVID-19 response strategy, offering a more centralized policy program the previous administration dangerously lacked.

Additionally, Biden has already rejoined the Paris Agreement, a strong indicator combating climate change and other environmental issues are primary concerns for this administration, again, strictly contrasting Trump’s response the past four years.

What to watch for

Though Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are entering their respective roles at one of the most dire points in recent U.S. history — from an economic, public health and sociopolitical perspective — politicians at home and abroad as well as the general public are carefully watching how this administration plans to address all that the past one failed to acknowledge. But, it will be interesting to see how President Biden plans to tap into red voting blocs, beyond vague calls for unity.

UW students react to 2020 election results with joy, hope amid pandemic anxietyMadison residents and students burst into celebration and rushed to the Wisconsin State Capitol Nov. 7 after multiple news outlets Read…

Trump’s impeachment proceedings

The Story —

Katie Hardie/The Badger Herald

By Monday Jan. 25th, the US House of Representatives will have delivered articles of impeachment charging former President Donald Trump with the incitement of the insurrection that sought to overturn Congressional certification of the 2020 general election on Jan. 6th. 

This marks the first time in American history a President was impeached a total of two times while in office. Perhaps more consequentially, it was also the most bipartisan impeachment effort in history with 10 House GOP caucus members voting in favor of this latest impeachment effort.

Despite the rapid advancement of impeachment proceedings through the House, it remains unclear how quickly former President Trump’s trial will be conducted in the Senate. While the Senate is compelled by procedural rules to be immediately transformed into a trial court in order to issue a ruling on the articles of impeachment, there is room for adjustment if an agreement can be reached by Senate leadership. 

What to watch for

Moving forward, keep an eye on how quickly Democrats work to wrap up this unprecedented trial process. As the situation currently stands, Biden was forced by senate inaction to name 34 acting Federal Agency leaders as he awaits Senate confirmation of his nominees to head cabinet and subordinate agency positions. Drawn out trial hearings and extensive deliberations on the merits of this second impeachment of a former President have the potential to hamper Biden’s ambitious agenda for his first 100 days in office. 

The Badger Herald Editorial Board serves to represent the voice of the editorial department, distinct from the newsroom and does not necessarily reflect the views of each staff member.