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SGA reorganizes area governments

(Katherine Mayo/Collegian)

The Student Government Association voted to reorganize residential area governments to fall under the power of the Residence Hall Association in a motion at its Monday meeting.

The motion will take effect in the fall of 2017. The SGA currently holds power over the RHA and area governments. Next fall, however, the RHA will assume the advising role over area governments previously held by the SGA, according to SGA Vice President Lily Wallace.

Wallace, who devised the new system, said this has been an issue for a while.

“It has been a historical issue for the SGA trying to figure out where area governments fall,” Wallace said. “I think it’s important for us when we’re creating leadership structures to make sure that the structures in place allow people to succeed.”

Previously, area governments had to submit budget requests directly to the SGA, while the new system will give all budget control to the RHA to distribute among the governments.

Wallace said there is currently an unclear chain of command between the SGA and area governments, so she hopes this proposal will clarify it.

Any mention of area governments will be dissolved from the SGA’s bylaws, according to Administrative Affairs Committee Chairman Ryan Mahan.

Mahan said the SGA and the RHA will collaborate in replacing the current system. He said the SGA’s administrative affairs committee drafted a new area government charter that will avoid any inconsistencies in previous area government charters.

President Anthony Vitale said area governments often didn’t submit budget requests to the SGA, so they wouldn’t receive any funding. He believes the new system will allow area governments to improve its relationship with the RHA and House Councils, so the area governments will be better funded.

Vitale also said the funding will be divided by area governments based on their population. The larger the area’s population, the larger the sum of money its government will receive.

Vitale noted if area governments don’t spend any money by the add/drop period of the second semester of each year, the money would be available as a collective sum for all areas to use. This would allow more active areas to use money unspent by other area governments.

Wallace said she met with area governors several times since December to figure out how to improve the area governments’ roles on campus.

Hannah Fleming, area governor of Commonwealth Honors College Residential Community, believes the new system will be effective.

“The current way area governments run is ineffective,” Fleming said. “This proposal addresses every single issue that we brought to Lily, and every area governor believes this is the correct solution.”

“We have a huge problem with funding and we also have a huge problem with who we’re reporting to,” Fleming added. “As I said, this proposal fixes all of those issues.”

Meredith Mase, area governor of Central Residential Area, said her government had to fight for its funding last year when it started with a negative budget. She said she wants to stop fighting the SGA to get a budget.

“Area government should be this community organization that builds a bond between every House Council within an area, and right now that’s not effective,” Mase said.

“We’re trying our hardest, and our hardest isn’t enough,” Mase added. “This process will make everyone’s life easier.”

Wallace said with this proposal, the SGA can help define area governments’ roles be going forward.

Jack Martin can be reached at johnmartin@umass.edu.

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