SGA to get hands dirty

By Katie Landeck

Evan Sahagian/Collegian

The Student Government Association – with the help of student volunteers from the University of Massachusetts – won’t be doing office work on Saturday.

Instead, they’ll be donating time to the Amherst community.

The SGA plans to spend its Saturday gardening at the Jones Library, doing maintenance at the Amherst Police Department, and cleaning up multiple sites across the area.

“We are trying to show people what UMass is really like,” said Garrett Gowen, SGA vice president.

Over 100 students have already registered online to participate in the “UMass UMake a Difference” event, which is scheduled to run from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

SGA representatives will be in front of the Fine Arts Center checking people in and registering walk-ins starting at 10 a.m. Transportation and a pizza lunch will be provided to all volunteers.

Students who preregister online can select which project they prefer to work on.

Partnering with the External Relations Office, the event has been in the planning stages for about two months, and was part of Gowen’s and SGA President Akshay Kapoor’s platform.

Gowen said the SGA felt “UMass was viewed based on what a few students” do on a Friday night.

“We want to show the side of UMass that gives back,” Gowen said.

Gowen said he hopes the event will build a bridge for students between the UMass and Amherst communities, and that eventually “UMass UMake a Difference” will become an annual September event.

He said September will be the peak of student involvement.

“I hope with each passing year it expands,” Gowen said.

He envisions more campus groups becoming involved and expects some volunteers to start working in surrounding towns such as Northampton and Hadley rather than just Amherst.

Currently, there are no plans to do another volunteer day in the spring semester, but Gowen said that it wasn’t out of the question.

“We’re just testing the waters,” he said.

Gowen said he hopes that more people will register for the event on Saturday.

“We have the capacity for 150 or more people,” Gowen said.

Students can visit to to register.

Katie Landeck can be reached at [email protected]