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Members of Student Government Association plan new course

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(Alyssa Creamer/Collegian)

Last night, Jan. 27, members of the University of Massachusetts Student Government Association (SGA) passed a resolution to support a proposed course designed specifically for SGA members.

While UMass’ Faculty Senate still needs to approve the course – titled “Legal Issues in Student Governance and Higher Education” – for the coming fall semester, a syllabus has already been drafted by Student Legal Services Directing Attorney Chuck Dimare and Associate Director Corey Carvalho. SGA advisor Lydia Washington also aided in the creation of the tentative course’s syllabus.

The SGA’s acting Administrative Affairs Committee Chair and Orchard Hill Senator Jared Rose, a sophomore, created the basic plans and ideas for the potential course after finding the SGA a “very demanding and intense” extracurricular activity his freshman year.

“I was in the marching band last year,” said Rose. “And marching band members receive two [academic] credits just for being in the marching band.”

“One of the things I noticed after I dropped out of marching band so that I could focus all my attention on being in the SGA Senate is that the Senate takes up more time than two classes put together. And that’s fine with me because I’m willing to put in the time, but one of the ideas of creating a course for SGA members is that the SGA is a real service to the University, and those students deserve to get credit for all of their work.”

During Rose’s presentation at the SGA meeting, Rose also emphasized the need for SGA members to meet with one another in more “informal” settings “to discuss ideas,” and how in the past, it has been difficult to match up members’ varying schedules.

Essentially, the resolution passed stated that “whereas in the past, the Student Government Association officers have found that their elected or appointed positions require vast amounts of time that often conflict with academic schedules. And whereas, the time it takes to do these jobs to their fullest often cause academic sacrifices and little compensation of any kind, therefore, be it resolved that the [SGA] fully supports the syllabus for the proposed class…”

“By passing this resolution, members of the SGA are sending a message to the Faculty Senate,” said Rose. “We’re saying, listen, we really think it will help us, and we really want to work with the faculty and administration at UMass to make the school better, and this class will help us do that.”

Currently, the course’s syllabus would require its students to write a six to eight page policy proposal for UMass.

Rose said he believes that the most beneficial aspect of this course would be its ability to get Senate members to meet informally, and that it is likely the policy proposal papers will spur many progressive ideas.

The resolution passed almost without opposition or abstentions, and many members were vocal about their support of it.

“I think this class is a great idea,” said Tina Kennedy, Senate member and SGA Finance Committee chair. “For a long time, senators have been trying to get credit for the program, and I think it’s awesome that someone finally stepped up and did it.

I think it’s great it’s not a required class,” Kennedy continued. “But it is a great opportunity because senators do put in a lot of time and effort. There are a lot of unsung heroes and it’s good they’ll be able to receive at least credit for their hard work.”

The meeting also swore in several new members to vacant Senate seats, including Michael Fox and Justin Thompson as Commuter Senators and Erica Nyer, who moved from being a Southwest North Senator to a Southwest South Senator. Two members, Zachary Dawson and Rachel Tumin, were voted into the Elections Commission. Tumin served as an Elections Commissioner last semester.

“I’m willing to work to improve helping to straighten out the situation with online voting,” said Dawson. “I’m very excited to be on the Elections Commission.”

Members of the SGA will be meeting tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. in the SGA to discuss online voting. UMass’ student voting population voted in favor of online voting for elections by 87 percent last fall, but the referendum was determined invalid by the Judiciary Committee.

Alyssa Creamer can be reached at acreamer@student.umass.edu.

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