SGA swears in four new members, puts finishing touches on a number of projects

By William Keve

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(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)

(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)

The Student Government Association’s weekly Monday meeting began with an Ally Training Program led by Senator Holli Selman and other volunteers from the Stonewall Center.

After breaking into four groups, SGA members were taught correct terminology and pronoun use for members of the LGBT community, as well how to stand up as an ally whenever the situation presents itself. Speaker of the Senate Sionan Barrett emphasized the importance of the trainings, citing that SGA representatives are needed to serve as role models for the importance of being an ally.

After the training, the meeting proceeded as usual. Topics discussed included student business development in the Hatch, Halloween protocol, Student Business Week, open-source textbooks, an announcement on the Sam the Minuteman Rider and a series of appointments of new members.

The meeting was met with a series of appointments of new senators, all sponsored by Administrative Affairs. Michael Hout was appointed to a vacant senate seat in Sylvan Residential Area. He had been serving as a commuter before moving on campus this semester. Hout was approved unanimously.

Jose Nova was appointed to a vacant seat in Southwest Residential Area. Nova said, “Last semester, I saw how underrepresented people of color were, in addition to women coming from single homes. That brought me here, I’m excited to get working and make things happen.”

Senator Nova also said he would like to work on the Diversity and Student Engagement
Committee with Emily O’Neil and Josh Odam. The motion was approved unanimously.

Emily Spiewak was appointed to the vacant commuter senate seat. At her introduction, Spiewak spoke on her motivations for joining the SGA. “I’m a member of Sigma Kappa sorority. It was apparent when I moved in that no one knew anything about the SGA and that must change.” Spiewak plans to serve on DSEC. The motion passed unanimously.

Meghan Tunno was the last to be appointed to a vacant Sylvan senate seat. Tunno had assisted the ally training to begin the meeting, and mentioned that joining the SGA would be, “a really great way to make UMass a safe place for queer students.” Tunno is concerned with achieving better health care realities for trans students at University Health Services and supporting the admission of trans women at Smith College. The motion passed unanimously.

2014 Special Order 18 was the only appointment that did not pass. Administrative Affairs sponsored Gabriel Schmitt to sit on a vacant commuter Senate seat. Schmitt’s agenda centered on improving the relationship between the SGA and the University Health Services.

“The SGA doesn’t talk about UHS much, but I know a lot about it,” he said. However, a number of SGA members voiced their concerns about Schmitt’s dedication, with Senator DiZoglio asking if he was going to take his position seriously. The motion was voted down nearly unanimously.

After a motion to develop student businesses in the Hatch was debated last Monday, it was opened again at the meeting. Additional plans, along with a revised resolution, were brought to the meeting by Senators Michael Turner and Ryan Jackson, the resolutions co-sponsors. They then retracted the motion, saying they were going to make changes and work on it to present later in the semester.

Prior to discussing the resolution, Erin Drake, the director for Student Activities and Involvement, spoke on the subject.

“The state building inspector has determined that there is a change of use as the Hatch currently stands,” she said. “What that means is that any sort of building code has to be updated. That could include things like fire safety equipment, exits, doors and all sorts of things that a new facility might require.”

Drake also described the creation of a group that would discuss potential use of the Hatch for business development, as well as the University of Massachusetts hiring a consultant to look into these issues.

While this update served as cause for Turner and Jackson to retract the motion from the meeting this week, progress toward an eventual conversion of the Hatch appears to be in full swing.

Monday Nov. 3 to Friday Nov. 7 is student business week at UMass. Speaker Barrett presented a newly created Facebook page and some events designed to boost business activity. Upcoming events are being hosted at the UMass Bike Coop on Nov. 2, Sweets and More on Nov. 3, Campus Design & Copy on Nov. 4, Sylvan Snack Bar and People’s Market on Nov. 5, Greeno Sub Shop on Nov. 6 and Earthfoods Café on Nov. 7.

Chairwoman Jennifer Raichel of the Undergraduate Experience Committee spoke on the Open Education Initiative. The program calls for the development of open-source texts that can be accessed by students for free.

“This is something that’s been talked about by faculty, but only very minimally. It is a little bit of extra work on their part, but not that much,” Raichel said.

The program offers grant funding for professors to write materials and supply them to an open database in order to avoid charging students great sums of money for new textbooks.

Chairwoman Raichel also emphasized the need for professors to select texts for their classes that were already available via the open database, in order to provide equal opportunities for those who are not able afford to buy the books.

Additionally, the SGA project which will have a “Sam the Minutemen rider” riding a horse at the UMass football game on Nov. 12 has finally secured the green light.

“Sam the Minuteman rider will be riding at the game on Nov. 12,” Senator Ryan DiZoglio announced.

The project is scheduled to continue after issues regarding liabilities previously stalled progress.

With Halloween coming up this weekend, many speakers at the meeting, including SGA President, Vinayak Rao and Speaker Barrett, addressed issues relating to celebrations on and off campus. Rao explained to the senate the temporary guest policy over Halloween weekend, which states that dorms can house four guests at a time, but only two are allowed to be non-UMass students.

“I encourage you all to be safe and smart this weekend,” Rao said. Barrett followed, and discussed the issues of costumes and cultural appropriation. She presented a graphic created by the Women of Color Leadership Network, which included a guide on not using blackface, not using names of ethnicities or cultures and avoiding racial stereotypes when donning an outfit this Friday.

William Keve can reached at [email protected]