Massachusetts Daily Collegian

SGA discusses student rights campaign, Comm. College

By Sam Hayes

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Editor’s note: There were many issues discussed at this meeting. But this article incorrectly portrayed a student as being connected to problems with the University judiciary. The section regarding her appointment to an SGA position has been removed from the story to avoid further confusion.

As Wednesday’s Student Government Association meeting began, several senators trickled in, giving the University of Massachusetts Senate the 22 members required for a vote.

Attorney General Kyle Howard discussed the upcoming launch of the SGA’s “Know Your Rights: A UMass Students Guide to Surviving Police Encounters,” a campaign aimed at informing UMass students about their legal rights in dealing with UMass police and campus authorities.

Howard had been in talks with Dean of Students and Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jo-Anne T. Vanin about the stringency of punishments for alcohol violations. Howard called the talks “heated at times.”

Howard said the University will not seek academic alternatives to current punishments and will not stop using police reports against students in school sanctions following violations, a practice Howard calls illegal.

Howard encouraged students who are fined or who have a police report used against them in school proceedings to visit Student Legal Services, which he said will assist them in filling out a form to send to the state Department of Criminal Records (CORI). CORI will then likely stop the report from being released to the University, said Howard.

“This is the way we are going to get them,” said Howard regarding the school’s policy of using police records in levying sanctions for violations of the Code of Student Conduct (CSC).

The legal services form was handed out at the meeting, with bold size 30 font reading, “For students who: Were only given a civil fine…Were NOT arrested, Are NOT facing Criminal Charges… [and] had their police report sent to the Dean of Students Office (police report was read during their judicial conference)… fill out attached form and return to Kyle Howard’s mailbox in the SGA office.” A Massachusetts state CORI form is attached.

Secretary of Outreach Andrew Prowten announced that the Commonwealth Honors College will now be called CHC, abbreviated from its formal name, will carry an additional $200 fee for students involved.

He also said the CHC will launch a new development of classrooms, facilities, and housing for CHC students and professors in between the Recreation Center and Boyden Gymnasium. He described it as “kind of finalized.”

“[Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Jean Kim] wants to get rid of freshman parking passes,” said Prowten. If this occurs, he pointed out faculty parking rates would not rise due to a contract, stating that a ban on freshman parking would affect sophomore, junior, and senior student parking rates.

Kim also plans to renovate the Orchard Hill trail, the trail between Orchard Hill and Sylvan, with lights and call boxes, said Prowten.

Senate Advisor Lydia Washington said she felt the student legislative body has not involved her enough in its proceedings.

“As your advisor, I feel disrespected, misunderstood and neglected,” she said.

“I am here,” she said in a plea for senators to work with her and involve her in the SGA’s work. Washington said she does not want to hear of SGA work from the administration anymore, she wants to meet with every senator.

A much debated motion to give an SGA executive-appointed task force ex-officio status passed. The motion means the members of the task force will have more rights to speak in senate meetings, but cannot vote and have no authority.

“We could table this until next semester, but what’s the point,” said Prowten, “we have these people working right now.”

Prowten argued that the task force will be a learning atmosphere, casting it as a “simple way to involve students in the SGA.” He continued to say that the task force should get ex-officio status because of the work they do alongside SGA senators.

The senate passed a motion which called for the University to apply the same rules to the search for a new UMass system president that they used when finding a new chancellor. The motion calls “for a final set of candidates for these positions to visit the respective campuses, meet with campus communities, and take questions from community members.”

Kim Garber was appointed to an empty Commuter Area Senate seat while the appointments of Jessica Stern and Maria Payano to Commuter area Senate seats was postponed a week due to their absence at the meeting.

In two weeks, the SGA senate will have their 1600th meeting. There will be festivities, prompting Speaker Modesto Montero to joke that “I may or may not dress up.”

Dan Stratford, chair of student and academic affairs, reported that his committee is working on having Ethernet jacks reopened in wireless dormitories and the development of sustainability classes. Stratford also discussed a bike rack walk called “racketeering.” He said the projects his committee is working on are “blossoming and sprouting.”

The senate appropriated $1200 to the African Student Association to pay for part of their Nov. 18 comedy show and $1090 to the men’s club soccer team for registration fees for a national tournament. The men’s club team qualified after being co-champions in their regional tournament.

Sam Hayes can be reached at [email protected].

1 Comment

One Response to “SGA discusses student rights campaign, Comm. College”

  1. Ed Cutting on November 16th, 2010 9:34 am

    I was involved in an interesting situation a while back — politically motivated persons fabricated a false allegation of a crime against another person — not me. The DA dismissed the false allegations with a Null Prosq after the judge bluntly suggested that the DA really didn’t want to come back into court with this particular charge and that the DA would be wise to find a way to make it go away.

    In the course of the statements that these students made to the Amherst Police (public records which will be duly forwarded to the appropriate Board of Bar Overseers if/when these individuals ever attempt to go for the Bar Exam, as I am required to do pursuant to Section 4.5 of the ACPA Code of Ethical Behavior) they gratuitously libeled me, defaming my character, etc.

    The Amherst Police refused to take *MY* statement (and I have a witness to this).

    The Amherst Police forwarded this defamatory information to the UM Dean of Students’ Office. Note that I have done NOTHING WRONG as far as the Amherst Police are concerned, that they have refused to even talk to me (at my request).

    This is a clear violation of the CORI memo — I have a spotless record, not even a parking ticket! We aren’t talking civil v. criminal charges here, there WERE NO CHARGES! Again, not even a parking ticket….

    The University took highly negative actions against me in part because of this libelous information. As a result, I likely am going to be forced to sue the university (unless there is intelligent life in Whitmore). JoAnne, right now, all I am asking is to “be made whole again” — and that is a whole lot cheaper than the alternative…

    So I probably am going to be suing the town as well. The town only has $2M in insurance and I likely will be going for a bit more than that, and it may be a situation where the university’s liability is limited but the town’s isn’t. So I could wind up with an 8 figure settlement that the *TOWN* has to pay, for what UMASS actually did — and as this would exceed their insurance, the town taxpayers would be facing a major tax bite to pay me.

    Think this might be a tad problematic to town/gown relations?

    JoAnne, you and your ACTnazis have an even bigger mess than you even imagined. And as to your “worst nightmare” — he has two small children and I am not going to drag a father away from his family and ask him to drive four hours just to make you feel uncomfortable. But I could…..

    JoAnne, do you really want to be personally responsible for the students having to pay a major new fee — we both know that any money the university has to pay will come from the students…

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