Hilbert Students Have Mixed Emotions About Being on Campus

With the fall 2020 semester halfway complete, students are in the swing of their routines.

From arriving to campus, sitting in their lecture halls, or meeting a fellow Hawk for coffee, things look different this semester at Hilbert. As many new precautions have been put in place to keep students, faculty, and staff safe, some students feel that some of these precautions are beneficial and others are trying to find a balance.

Sisters Haley and Toriann Wipperman,have different views on the way that things are going when asked about the sanitation in classrooms

Sophomore Toriann Wipperman said she is still adjusting to the new protocols.

“I’m somewhere in the middle,” Toriann Wipperman said. “It’s like decent. The one classroom I was in ran out of wipes to wipe down the desks and we kept asking for them to get refilled and it took a few days. It took a while.”

Based off the CDC’s recommendation, a face covering over both the nose and mouth should be worn in public spaces when a six-foot distance cannot be met. According to Toriann, everyone wears a mask properly throughout the duration of her in-person classes on campus. Professor Don Vincent said that the classrooms are sanitized well and students consistently wear their masks properly throughout the duration of his lectures.

Some colleges decided to pull the plug months ago on both in-person classes and re-opening dorm halls for the fall 2020 semester. However, Hilbert made the decision to have students live in dorms and continue with in person instruction.

Toriann Wipperman said she understands why it is difficult for schools to decide whether to continue with in person classes, but that she feels they should have went completely remote when asked if she thought Hilbert administrators made the right decision.

“Thats controversial,” Toriann Wipperman said. “I’m gonna say no. It makes sense that Hilbert’s back. I just don’t think any of these schools should be. I think we should have just been in lockdown completely and just got rid of it completely, instead of trying to normalize it while the pandemic is still happening.”

Senior Haley Wipperman is currently completing all classes remotely from home, as she broke her foot in July. She feels a bit different about the topic.

“We are all college students and this is our school,” Haley Wipperman said. “It is up to us to follow the rules and keep everyone healthy. If we weren’t on campus, it would be another semester of our college experience taken away from us.”

Hamburg Budget Holds the Line

The COVID-19 pandemic caused many governments to raise, or consider raising taxes to account for deficits. That includes places like Nashville, Chicago, and California, but not in Hamburg according to Town Supervisor Jim Shaw.

“0.0%, no tax increase, taxes stay constant to what they were in 2020,” said Shaw

Shaw said the town took a hard look at reducing unneeded spending, and capitalizing on low interest rates to even update some of its facilities and services.

“We cut back on overtime, we cut back on out of town travel for seminars, we put a cap on new equipment or vehicle purchases,” Shaw said. “We also established a hiring freeze for part-time summer employees and full time employees.”

There’s no layoffs planned, but one position would be eliminated in the police department.

“We anticipate four retirements in the first few months of 2021,” said Shaw “one of those positions will remain vacant, so we’re not laying anyone off, one will be vacant, it’s eliminated by attrition.”

One welcomed decision is the state’s reversal on not sharing revenue from the Hamburg Casino and racetrack with the town. Shaw said while it was reduced, the funds will be much needed help to Hamburg’s pocketbook.

“Given the state’s financial difficulties, which are profound, we are relived to get 80% of the funding.”

Shaw said local governments can’t operate like the federal government and run a deficit. It needs to work and take account for the needs of the community.

“The fact of the matter of it is there are a lot of people in our township, not to mention other areas throughout Erie County and Western New York, there are a lot of people who are really suffering. And what we can do in this time of suffering, is tighten our belts and hold the line. It’s what we owe people morally, we can’t be excessive spenders when everyone else is struggling.”

The $47.7 million dollar budget is a decrease from the previous year’s $48.7 million budget. It’ll go for a vote in front of the Town Board on November 16th for approval.