Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

SGA moves to increase RSO support

Evan Sahagian/Collegian
Evan Sahagian/Collegian

In a move aimed at increasing services and support for Registered Student Organizations (RSOs), the Student Government Association is attempting to bolster the ranks of the Secretary of the Registry with two new undersecretaries.

The Secretary of the Registry – the SGA department responsible for aiding RSOs and disciplining delinquent Student Organizations – currently employs one staff member responsible for assisting the 200 RSOs on campus.

“It’s a huge work load,” said SGA vice president Garrett Gowen. “We need a well-connected secretary to solve problems for RSOs.”

Registry employees are essentially student managers for RSOs, said SGA advisor and Assistant Director of Student Activities and Involvement Center Lydia Washington. Their main duties include overseeing the registration process for new RSOs, allocating office space in the Student Union and solving any problems that RSOs experience.

“One person cannot handle all these job responsibilities and issues,” said Washington.

The undersecretaries would be present in the SGA office and able to answer questions, said Gowen. He has wanted to increase the Registry’s staff for some time in order to make the position more accessible to students, after finding that RSO leaders often need assistance at times when the secretary is not available.

Former Secretary of the Registry Janam Anand consistently found herself working beyond the 10 hours per week for which she was compensated.

“The phone was constantly ringing,” said Anand. “It was time-consuming, but we want to be there for RSOs”.

When Anand first took the position in 2010 there were two students employed by the registry. In spring of 2011, she became the sole employee.

She feels the position operated more smoothly with two members because they were able to split the workload.

“One person would do more outreach while the other would meet with advisors and handle paper work,” said Anand.

Even with two employees, “there were times when it was beyond 10 hours for both of us,” said Anand. She feels the move to increase the Registry’s staff is a “great move in the right direction.”

The Secretary of the Registry works closely with the advisors from the Center for Student Development (CSD) in order to tend to the needs of RSOs. Each CSD advisor is responsible for about 50 RSOs, said Gowen.

“It can be difficult to keep track of everything,” said Gowen. He feels that additional employees will “help to ease some of the strain on CSD,” who are often bogged down with administrative issues.

“We are talking about ways to collaborate closer,” said Gowen. “We are trying to benefit people outside the SGA.”

When RSOs have problems they come the Student Activities and Involvement Center first, who in turn notifies the Secretary of the Registry, said Washington.

“I hope for next year’s [SGA] cabinet this works the other way around,” said Washington.

Gowen is currently assessing the options for compensating the new employees but has found the process restricted by budgetary concerns. He has been talking with the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Campus Life Jean Kim in hopes of transforming the position into an internship with the option to receive credit.

“This expansion is a pilot program,” said Gowen. He feels the internship compensation model has the potential benefit other cabinet positions that are also in need of wider support.

Washington also thinks that a model of this type would help to support internal functionalities of the SGA. In specific, she said that the Secretary of Finance, the Secretary of Sustainability and the Secretary of Diversity are in need of additional support.

Zachary Weishar can be reached at [email protected].


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