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October 12, 2017

SGA honors Parks’ legacy

Samantha Webber/Collegian

Late University of Massachusetts marching band director George Parks’ “great and innumerable accomplishments” were formally recognized by the Student Government Association in a unanimously passed motion at Wednesday’s weekly SGA meeting.

SGA senate sponsor of the motion and marching band member Daniel Stratford said he believed the motion shows unilateral support for Parks’ memory from the student body.

“ I just  want [Parks] to be recognized by the whole student body,” he said. “Thank you all, I am immensely flattered,” that the whole senate voted for the motion.

The University will celebrate Parks’ memory on Saturday with a memorial for the late band director commencing at 11:30 a.m. in the Mullins Center. Speakers at the Parks event will include University system President Jack M. Wilson, Chancellor Robert Holub, State Sen. Stan Rosenberg of Amherst, and several former band members and students, including at least one from each decade of Parks’ 33-year tenure, according to a Thursday University release. Also speaking will be Jeff Cox, chair of the Dance department and former band director and professor of music and dance John Jenkins.

Alumni and Marching Band members wishing to participate can gather at 11 a.m. at the Old Chapel and march to the Mullins Center, passing on their way the band’s future home, presently under construction. Saturday’s ceremony will include a performance from the band and reflections on Parks’ contributions to the University.

In other news from the Undergraduate Student Senate meeting Wednesday, a motion passed to create a Student Advertising Committee, a Wellman Clarification Act of 2010 was passed and a motion to create a student historical association was postponed for one week.

The Student Advertising Committee, if initiated, would hope to facilitate student involvement in advertising UMass through pamphlets and materials for prospective students. The motion’s sponsor said “The administration portrays a view of students with a student voice.”

The Wellman Clarification Act of 2010 would clarify the Wellman Document, the “central document from which the SGA …derives its authority,” which has “been a source of much controversy and tension between the SGA and the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Campus Life.”

When SGA President Brandon Tower stepped up to podium, the Senate audience erupted with playful taunts and heckling. Tower retorted with some light-hearted jokes, before diving into an outline of his ambitions for the upcoming year.

“Last year’s executive branch failed to assemble for a semester,” said Tower, “The SGA was ineffectual and accomplished little … It was a sandbox for children to play government.”

“We are far from a grand construction,” said Tower, “but we need to exploit what we have… our power is in the form of recommendations.”

“Student Government is hard … and it will be frustrating,” said President Tower before the Senate, “we are all the same party here, all on the same team … we have the same goal, the same purpose.”

“The cause of one student is the cause of all students,” Tower continued, adding that “we have an incredible student body, and it needs to be represented by an incredible student government.” Tower said that “the only agenda that matters is not mine or Speaker [Modesto Montero’s] but the student agenda.”

As Tower stepped down from the podium, he was met with strong applause. SGA senator Josh Davidson gave a short speech on how he first was critical of Tower and did not think Tower was qualified to be President, and even considered running against him. Davidson elaborated, however, that following Tower’s speech before the Faculty Senate and the Tower administration’s work, Davidson is proud of what the SGA has done.

Tower’s legislative agenda includes lowering textbook prices through a potential online swap market, reforming academic advising, establishing a task force to gather student input on the construction of the new Student Union, keeping tuition and fees low, making campus safety and woman’s health issues a higher priority, and reforming the Code of Student Conduct.

“We are also working to prevent ‘doubling up’ on punishment by fighting the University to ensure it doesn’t levy additional on-campus punishments for incidents that occur off-campus,” wrote Tower in his legislative agenda.

 SGA Attorney General Kyle Howard is starting the “Don’t Get Caught” campaign also meant to protect student rights. “Don’t Get Caught” will help students “with how to deal with cops when they show up at your door,” said Howard.

The Faculty Senate has mandated that all new students taking the newly-instituted class, The Integrated Experience, which will combine general education with major-specific material for juniors in their respective departments. The new class will affect freshman, transfer students, and all classes heading into the future. The Faculty Senate’s liaison at the SGA meeting noted that nobody knows how they will fund the program at the moment.

Secretary of Finance Ben Levine said students will be polled to see if new fees should be added to pay for a planned new Student Union.

Speaker Modesto Montero said he hopes to work more closely with registered student organizations.

“My personal goal is to reach out to Registered Student Organizations,” stating that he feels the SGA has been neglecting its relationship with RSOs.

Before the meeting officially started, the recent election results were discussed. Voter turnout improved from 7 or 8 percent of the student body to 10 percent, and took as little as half the time as in previous years with the new online format. The senators who were sworn in last week were re-sworn in this week, because of a small technical error made the previous week.

The UMass Democrats announced there will be a bus leaving this Saturday free of cost that will travel to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s fundraiser, “Moving Massachusetts Forward,” where U.S. President Barack Obama will speak.

In other SGA news, Garrett Gowen, Orchard Hill Area Governor, announced a Super Smash Brothers Tournament that “was huge last year, and brought a lot of money in.”

Sam Hayes can be reached at sdhayes@student.umass.edu.

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