SGA discusses World Series events, new scheduling and peer mentor program

By Katrina Borofski

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

At Monday’s Student Government Association meeting, senators discussed a number of important topics, including last week’s SGA-sponsored events, new implementations for the peer mentor program and a change in scheduling that will take place next fall.

University of Massachusetts Chancellor Enku Gelaye was among a number of people pleased with the outcome of the event programming that took place on Wednesday night for the World Series.

“I think this is a significant turn in in see programming on campus,” Gelaye said. “I am proud of the thousands of students that came and celebrated peacefully and dispersed peacefully.”

In the weeks leading up to the World Series, the SGA coordinated with students, faculty, staff and the UMass Police Department in order to plan the programming that took place on the quad in the Southwest Residential Area last Wednesday night.

“It didn’t go exactly as planned. However, it was successful in a way that we gave students an awesome experience in an environment that was very exciting and energetic,” said Senate Speaker Sionan Barrett, who put hours into the planning of this programming and volunteered at the events that night.

SGA Adviser Lydia Washington expressed that she was similarly pleased from an advisor’s perspective as to the outcome of this event.

“I was so touched, as your adviser, to see you out there not just interacting with the crowd, but cleaning up afterward,” Washington said.

The events that took place on Wednesday will serve as precedent for future event programming. Although police were forced to disperse crowds and arrest students that night, the event as a whole was considered “a major success.”

The University Vice Provost of Continuing Education Carol Barr also spoke at this week’s SGA meeting to discuss a number of important topics, including the new schedule being initiated next fall as well as a new program for peer mentors.

Starting in the fall of 2014, 75-minute class blocks will be included to Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes. Currently, classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are only 50 minutes long, while classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays are 75-minute classes.

“We have increased student enrollment in the past few years and we wanted to make sure we had certain classes available,” Barr said. “But we are currently facility-constrained.”

The increased enrollment conflicted with scheduling because Tuesdays and Thursdays are currently filled to 100 percent utilization. This often causes issues regarding schedules for many students. With increased enrollment, the issue worsens.

As a result, the scheduling at UMass is prepared to change. Tuesdays and Thursdays will remain the same – the only difference being that classes will now begin at 8:30 a.m. as opposed to 8:00 a.m. As for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, there will still be 50-minute class blocks, but the afternoon classes for these days will be 75 minutes long.

“We kept six 50-minute time blocks for classes like Introductory Mathematics and certain language classes, who prefer the 50-minute class time,” Barr said.

This implementation will become feasible with the finalization of the new academic building that will be ready for the fall of 2014, which will provide additional space for classes and students.

Barr also explained changes in the peer mentor program at Monday’s meeting, citing plans to “implement a one-credit course for peer mentors to attend to help them with their jobs as well as communication skills, peer mentor development, et cetera.”

In addition, Barr discussed extending the role of the peer mentor.

“We want to implement a new peer mentor model reserving a lot of the great roles of the peer mentors now, but also incorporate more academic aspects,” she explained.

Peer mentors will have the same time commitment, but Barr said the new program has peer mentors receiving payment. This new program for peer mentors will be implemented in the next few years.

Katrina Borofski can be reached at [email protected]