SGA discusses cuts to veteran benefits at weekly meeting

By Katrina Borofski

The Student Government Association discussed the repercussions of the government shutdown as well as updates on many other events taking place on the University of Massachusetts campus at their weekly meeting on Tuesday evening.

Cade Belisle

One of the most pressing issues that the SGA considered was the negative impact that the government shutdown is having on veterans at the University.

“Because of the government shutdown, veteran benefits are being cut. That’s not alright with us,” Speaker Sionan Barrett said.

The SGA created a video expressing their support for the veterans and have also initiated a petition to protest the benefit cuts, which affect a number of UMass students.

Barrett also shared news with the Student Senate from a meeting with Enku Gelaye, vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life. At this meeting, Gelaye explained background reasoning behind cancelling school events, such as the electronic dance music concerts, providing additional explanations as to why these cancellations were necessary.

Regarding school-planned events, Barrett also reported on a continued effort toward gaining permission to host events following large sports games. Barrett and others are in the process of receiving approval to host a large campus event during other events such as the World Series.

Emily O’Neil, a Student Senate representative from Orchard Hill, also brought up an issue regarding student internships.

“For those who haven’t heard, it costs $200 for a one-credit student internship during the summer,” O’Neil said. Her goal is to reduce this cost in order to increase availability and opportunity for students, saying “We want to help students leave UMass more well-rounded.”

Renee Moss, president of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County, came to this week’s SGA meeting to advertise the Masquerade Bowl, a fundraiser for the program that will take place on Nov. 2 and 3 at Spare Time Northampton. Moss emphasized the invaluable significance of this program here at UMass.

“Hampshire County Big Brothers Big Sisters has a huge connection with UMass; having a college student as a big brother or sister provides such a powerful influence for the younger kids,” Moss said.

The current UMass Graduate Student Senate president was also a guest at this week’s SGA meeting. The SGA and GSS are currently collaborating to work together on many important issues regarding both undergraduate and graduate student government.

Vice President Emily Hajjar also reported a number of updates at this meeting. After attending an Athletic Faculty Senate meeting, Hajjar reported updates regarding the building of the Champion Center, noting that its construction will be completed by spring 2015. Hajjar said that this will be a great facility for all student athletes.

Hajjar also brought up SGA’s “WTF (What To Fix) Campaign.” This campaign provides students with the opportunity to bring issues within the campus community to the attention of the Senate. Students can share their issues at the SGA’s table in the Student Union every Thursday, or they connect with the WTF campaign on Twitter: @WTF_UMass.

Katrina Borofski can be reached at [email protected]