President Anthony Vitale and Vice President Nick Rampone anticipate productive year at SGA
Anthony Vitale and Nick Rampone, president and vice president of the University of Massachusetts Student Government Association, have eagerly begun to put their campaign platform into effect with the start of the semester.
Vitale and Rampone, both juniors, are focusing on numerous goals for their terms, including expanding the UMass Bike Share Program, redeveloping the Student Union, campaigning for increased higher education funding in Massachusetts, encouraging students to vote in local, state and national elections and raising awareness of the SGA around campus.
“I am really excited to start our projects that we’ve been campaigning on last semester and working to prepare for over the summer, and now that the semester has finally gone underway, we’ve been making a lot of progress in getting down to work,” said Vitale, who is studying economics and finance.
The SGA has taken steps to expand the UMass Bike Share Program by creating the position of bike share manager and by adding 20 new bikes within the next six months to raise the total number of bikes in the program to 38.
Vitale and Rampone are working with UMass administrators to evaluate and redevelop the Student Union, with a specific focus on The Hatch, which was one of the platforms from their campaign last semester.
“The Student Union as a building has been here since 1956, and it really hasn’t gone through much renovation since. It’s supposed to be the center of campus, the center for student life. But, really, if you walk through the Student Union, it doesn’t feel like that,” said Vitale.
A Student Union task force to discuss this redevelopment has been established as a joint effort with the SGA. Representatives from multiple Vice Chancellor’s offices and other campus planning administrators.
“We are working together to develop a serious understanding of, theoretically, what the Student Union should be, what we need to include in the Student Union and how to renovate or change the Student Union to meet these purposes. This task force is looking from the ground up as to how we can make this building be useful to students on a daily basis because, right now, in our perspective it is not serving that purpose,” said Vitale.
Rampone, who is studying economics and legal studies, added: “We’ve already made significant progress towards that, so I think that really speaks volume about the SGA as a whole this year.”
Vitale and Rampone stressed the importance of the relationships they have worked on developing with campus administrators, student businesses, agencies and other students since starting their terms in order to translate their ideas into action.
A primary focus of their terms is going to be furthering the discussion about higher education funding in Massachusetts. In addition to participating in Lobby Day, the SGA is planning to bring state leaders to campus early next semester to engage in a dialogue with students.
“We are going to be focusing on holding an event, or doing something, in which we bring state leaders, state decision makers, to this campus to express to them the great things UMass is doing, and how funding UMass completely and strategically on a long-term sustainable basis will benefit this Commonwealth,” said Vitale.
In conjunction with MassPIRG, SGA is working to increase the number of students who vote in November. Since 2004, there has not been a voting location on campus, something Vitale and Rampone hope to change to make voting easier for students.
“We’re really trying to get a voting location here on campus. We, unfortunately, weren’t able to make the Democratic primary which was last week, but, hopefully, if everything goes well, we’ll be able to get a voting location by November. And, if not, we really hope to extend that into the future,” said Vitale.
For the first time, the SGA is holding elections for the freshman class separately, since the elections for the sophomore, junior and senior classes took place in the spring. Out of 45 candidates running, there are 14 Senate positions. Voting takes place online on Campus Pulse from Sept. 19-22.
“It’s a super competitive race,” said Vitale. “We’re really excited…[We] hope that the competitiveness of it really allows us to have the best possible candidates win and…bring to light issues that SGA needs to be focusing on.”
Vitale and Rampone plan to concentrate on their constituents’ concerns instead of spending the majority of their time dealing with bureaucratic issues, hoping to widen the number of students who are informed about the SGA and its contributions to the UMass community.
“This year, the SGA really looks forward to doing things that impact students every single day…[We] are going to get students to understand not only what the acronym of SGA stands for, but, also, what we do and who we are,” said Vitale.
“We’re really fighting for students. We want them to know we’re in their corner…to make the University a more enjoyable place for everyone,” said Rampone.
Elizabeth Wallace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @lizwallace2019.