SGA discusses campus safety, riots and Molly

By Katrina Borofski

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

At the Student Government Association meeting on Monday night a number of significant topics were brought up by the University’s Student Senate.

This week the SGA brought in two guest speakers to discuss campus safety at the University, specifically regarding celebratory events that may take place at UMass in the coming weeks and months.

John Horvath, the police chief of the University of Massachusetts Police Department was the first to speak. He came to the meeting to receive feedback from student government regarding ways to resolve the increase in student celebrations that take place as a result of New England sports events.

“In past years serious celebrations that have taken place as a result of the Patriots winning the Super Bowl, the Bruins in the Stanley Cup and the Red Sox in the World Series,” said Horvath.

The issue here, according to Horvath, lies in the University’s responses to these sporting events and how these responses are perceived by outside sources.

“Something really affecting the university as a whole is how it is portrayed to the media,” he said.

In the past years, though more prevalent in the early 2000s than now, sporting events were a frequent cause of large celebrations on campus, according to Horvath. Such celebrations have been most prevalent in the Southwest Residential Area, and while most celebrations were containable, the media often labeled such events as “riots.”

These celebrations are an issue primarily due to the resulting negative media coverage at UMass, as well as an overall negative effect on students’ time here on campus.

“That type of action affects the value of your education,” Horvath said. “We need to identify an area for celebration or refrain from this celebration following such sporting events.”

Thus, Horvath came to this week’s Student Government meeting in order to discuss and perhaps configure possible resolutions to these issues, which may arise again in the near future.

Possible resolutions, proposed by Horvath and revised by members of the Student Senate, included holding a formalized celebration on campus at places such as the Mullins Center and the Haigis Mall. The idea of holding multiple celebrations on campus in different residential areas was also proposed.

“You’re going to have to think of something very brand [new],” said one member of the Student Senate who currently resides in Southwest and has experienced firsthand the celebrations following New England sporting events. “Students aren’t going to go somewhere far like the Mullins Center to celebrate.”

Through the various responses that were collected on the topic, John Horvath was still open to finding a safe alternative solution for the coming weeks.

Executive Director of the University Emergency Medical Services Jon Shecter was the second guest speaker. He discussed the issue of party drugs and alcohol at planned events by the University, and explained the procedure put forth by the UMass EMS at concerts and events held at the Mullins Center, as well as how they react to alcohol and drug related issues.

“The vast majority of what we deal with is alcohol-related,” Shecter said. “For the most part we haven’t dealt with large amounts of Molly.”

Regardless of facts and specifics, Shecter highlights that the most important factor regarding these events is the safety of the students.

“Cancelling a show here won’t help or hinder these activities,” said Shecter, who recognizes the prevalence of drugs used by college-aged students.

Nonetheless, Shecter came to promote the significance of initiating action to help fix this issue at UMass.

“Education by any means necessary is a huge help,” explained Shecter.

While speaking at this week’s meeting, Vice President Emily Hajjar mentioned a meeting she attended with the manager of a project taking place outside the Student Union and discussed the fencing in of the area.

Hajjar said the project will be done on Nov. 15, but “there’s still more work to be done and they don’t know how many fences can be taken down.”

Hajjar was aware of the students’ negative feedback to the fences serving as a disruption on campus, and ensured student senators that this issue was voiced.

In addition, a cabinet member reminded students that this week is No Impact Week, held by the Campus Sustainability Initiative with specific initiatives for each day for students to focus on decreasing their carbon impact.

Also at this week’s meeting, Senate seats were formally sworn in by the newly appointed Chief of Justice to cover positions representing Southwest, Northeast and other residential areas.

Special assistant positions for the SGA were also formally sworn in at this week’s meeting.

Katrina Borofski can be reached at [email protected]