Scrolling Headlines:

50 Activists attend meeting as UMass Board of Trustees approves motion of divestment from fossil fuel companies -

June 16, 2016

Four former Minutemen depart from UMass hockey program -

June 14, 2016

Boston Calling 2016 delivers rousing farewell to City Hall Plaza -

June 2, 2016

Sufjan Stevens unearths quirk at Boston Calling -

June 2, 2016

The Collegian live tweets Boston Calling -

May 28, 2016

UMass baseball finishes season with sweep over George Mason -

May 22, 2016

UMass women’s lacrosse falls in NCAA quarterfinal -

May 22, 2016

‘Green Room’ is a bloody blast of survival horror -

May 21, 2016

DaLuz: Boston Celtics stuck trudging in the mud -

May 18, 2016

Despite tallying double-digit hits, UMass baseball falls to Fairfield Tuesday afternoon -

May 17, 2016

Radiohead returns to the top with gorgeous, illuminating ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ -

May 16, 2016

UMass women’s lacrosse advances to quarterfinal of NCAA tournament -

May 16, 2016

UMass baseball outlasts Rhode Island in series finale behind strong pitching of Brandon Walsh -

May 15, 2016

Eileen McDonald’s overtime goal advances UMass women’s lacrosse in NCAA tournament -

May 14, 2016

12 UMass students face possible arrests in connection to an alleged bad LSD trip -

May 14, 2016

UMass baseball falls in first-ever Division I matchup with UMass Lowell 7-3 -

May 11, 2016

UMass baseball gets shut out in nonconference matchup with UConn -

May 10, 2016

UMass women’s lacrosse tops Richmond, wins eighth straight Atlantic 10 championship -

May 9, 2016

UMass baseball salvages last game of weekend series with Richmond behind strong eighth inning -

May 9, 2016

UMass women’s lacrosse beats St. Joe’s, advance to Atlantic 10 championship game -

May 7, 2016

The importance of veterans to university diversity

Samantha Webber/Collegian File Photo

Throughout almost four years of involvement in the Student Government Association, I have met many interesting people, students, administrators, faculty, you name it.

Among those, I have had the pleasure of coming to know several unique members of our campus community: veterans.

The idea that some of our peers are older and much more versed in the harsh realities of the world was not new to me. My brother served and was part of the Iraq invasion before he returned to the world of higher education. Meeting and talking with veterans on a personal basis gives nebulous ratings and rankings more meaning.

The recent ranking of the University of Massachusetts among the top 15 percent of schools that are the most military friendly is an admirable achievement. Not only does it set UMass apart as we compete for recognition and accomplishment, it demonstrates the growing and continuing support of administration, staff and students for the veteran community and their education.

The study cites examples in full-time veteran counselors, a strong Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), career placement, veteran networking, child care and access to tuition and fee refunds for active service.

I think the ranking also comes at a time in which veterans are expanding involvement outside their own community. Veterans comprise roughly 2 percent of the campus population, yet you can see their mark everywhere.

There is now a living and learning community called “The Barracks,” which is dedicated to housing and serving veterans on campus. A movement to start a fraternity for veterans, Omega Delta Sigma, is beginning to gain steam.

In the SGA, veteran senators have risen to high leadership positions with one chairing a Senate committee and another serving as Veterans’ Affairs secretary in the executive cabinet; I have had the pleasure of working with and learning from them. Whether there is a correlation or not, the ranking and this expansion in involvement definitely complement each other.

As we enter the 150th year of UMass, a celebration of the land grant concept, I think it is important to acknowledge the large role veterans have played in defining us as a university. Just as the University renews its efforts on recruiting and serving veterans following the 2008 Veterans Educational Assistance Act, I find value in examining UMass’ role in the post World War II period of demobilization.

As thousands of veterans sought education, the then-Massachusetts State College actually ran out of room to house the G.I. Bill beneficiaries. In fact, a new college was established between 1946 and 1949 at Fort Devens, specifically to serve the overflowing numbers of former soldiers. The sheer number of enrolling students over that period brought in different perspectives from different backgrounds, with an overarching shared experience of conflict and war.

http://umassamherstmagazine.com/2009/Fall-09/around-pond/combat.html

Fast forward 70 years or so, and UMass once again finds itself a destination for veterans looking for a quality education. Through programs like the Yellow Ribbon, which pays all resident tuition and fees for public school attendance and provisions like the Veteran Services office and VeteranONE, a veteran RSO, UMass builds upon its history of welcoming veterans and bringing them into the community.

Though this latest ranking only measures the benefits provided by the University to those who qualify, I like to think of it as a beacon, reminding us that we are a diverse campus in ways that people do not normally consider.

The SGA has given me a platform on which I have been able to interact with involved veterans, who wish to use their unique background and experience to contribute to the community and make changes that benefit everyone.

If nothing else, we should be reminded, not just of the sacrifice inherent in the title “veteran”, but of the true diversity of perspective and opinion on this campus and how it all contributes to a betterment of UMass and its students.

Garrett Gowen is the vice president of the SGA. He can be reached at ggowen@student.umass.edu.

 

Comments
2 Responses to “The importance of veterans to university diversity”
  1. Jose Roman says:

    Thanks for this article and recognizing your student veteran population.

    What UMass is doing is awesome. I hope to replicate alot of those initiatives on my own campus.

  2. Garrett Gowen says:

    Hi Jose,

    If you need any resources I’d be happy to connect you with members of my team in the SGA who are working on these projects.

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