Scrolling Headlines:

UMass football readies for season-opener against Hawaii -

August 22, 2017

UMass women’s soccer falls to Central Connecticut 3-0 in home opener -

August 19, 2017

Preseason serves as opportunity for young UMass men’s soccer players -

August 13, 2017

Amherst Fire Department website adds user friendly components and live audio feed -

August 11, 2017

UMass takes the cake for best campus dining -

August 11, 2017

Two UMass students overcome obstacles to win full-ride scholarships -

August 2, 2017

The guilt of saying ‘guilty’ -

August 2, 2017

UMass tuition set to rise 3-4 percent for 2017-2018 school year -

July 18, 2017

PVTA potential cuts affect UMass and five college students -

July 10, 2017

New director of student broadcast media at UMass this fall -

July 10, 2017

Whose American Dream? -

June 24, 2017

Man who threatened to bomb Coolidge Hall taken into ICE custody -

June 24, 2017

Cale Makar drafted by Colorado Avalanche in first round of 2017 NHL Entry Draft -

June 24, 2017

Conservatives: The Trump experiment is over -

June 17, 2017

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

Emily O’Neil hopes to increase diversity and improve Title IX training as student trustee

(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)

(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)

Affordability of education, Title IX protection and the recruitment and retention of a diverse student body are the three main components of Emily O’Neil’s SGA campaign platform for student trustee.

The junior economics major and women, gender and sexuality studies minor is the only female candidate running for the trustee position.

O’Neil joined the SGA as a senator her sophomore year. She’s currently the chair of the Diversity and Student Engagement Committee.

As student trustee, O’Neil hopes to build student power. She plans to hold monthly town hall events and weekly office hours in places that are easily accessible to students, like Earthfoods Café or the W.E.B. DuBois Library. Here, she said she will listen to student concerns and seek to understand what students need from the University.

“You’re representing every student in the University, not just ones that are like you. That’s important to remember,” O’Neil said. “It’s important for the student trustee to expand outside of the SGA, since that’s not usually representative of the university as a whole.”

O’Neil hopes to build a strong online presence so students feel she’s easy to reach. This will include a website where students can voice concerns or give feedback, in case they don’t attend a town hall meeting.

The governing document of the SGA is called the Wellman Document, which says the administration needs to consult the SGA when it wants to institute new policies that affect things students pay for or things that directly affect the students, for example, the recent policy regarding admission of Iranian national students.

According to O’Neil, that doesn’t really happen, or at least not as often as it should. She said the document is supposed to be updated every five years.

“I don’t think it’s been updated since 1993,” she said.

In addition, while the student trustee is required to attend SGA meetings but not Graduate Student Senate meetings, O’Neil plans to attend them anyway. As the voice of both undergraduates and graduates students, she believes it’s important for the student trustee to be available to them as well.

In her current position, she led a campaign to make it free for students to take summer internships for credit, working closely with the Center for Education Policy and Advocacy. She is also a member of the Coalition to End Rape Culture.

O’Neil believes Title IX, the federal law that prevents gender discrimination at public institutions, has been mishandled at UMass.

To change this, O’Neil wants to implement a Survivor’s Bill of Rights so that survivors of sexual assault who choose to report the acts can know what to expect.

“Survivors often lose control of their story to the University,” she said about the current policy.

O’Neil also seeks to implement an affirmative consent policy supporting a “yes means yes” standard, something that is in the works in the University of California system.

O’Neil has played a part in organizing this year’s Public Higher Education Advocacy Day, which will take place March 4. Students will go to the State House and lobby for a tuition freeze, which aligns with the affordability section of O’Neil’s platform.

As trustee, O’Neil will push the University to take action on the points outlined in its Diversity Strategic Plan and ask it to go further by giving extra financial support to the groups it praises as making a difference toward diversity – asking the administration to put its money where its mouth is, essentially.

She believes that this will make progress toward her goal of retaining students of color at the university, an area in which she says there is a lot of work to be done.

“Ultimately it’s about being transparent to do more effectively and uplifting student voices,” O’Neil said.

Eleanor Harte can be reached at eharte@umass.edu.

Leave A Comment