SGA vice president proposes addition of UMass congress

By Christina Yacono

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(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)

(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)

At last Monday’s Student Government Association meeting, Vice President Jacob Schissel, introduced the idea of a University of Massachusetts congress, which would convene to talk about common issues that all the UMass campuses have.

The basic structure of the congress would model the current Five College committee that meets to talk about issues pertaining to the schools in the Pioneer Valley. The congress would either meet once a month or once a semester, and it would include the SGA president and vice president, and possibly one other SGA member from each school, if the issue is significant. Each meeting would have a designated agenda, while allowing the representatives to bring up any issues within their school that they feel could be solved together.

“The four (schools) coming together would be a huge step forward,” Schissel said. “The idea of the congress wouldn’t be a radical one, but (would consist of) a meeting hosted by one of the schools for them to share what’s going on at the school and seeing what help or resources we can offer.”

Like the Five College committee bi-weekly meeting, the four schools have similar issues that they could work on and have a big impact on. For instance, issues such as St. Patrick’s Day or sports celebrations could be discussed together. If necessary, institution-wide policies could be talked about because it would not just be one school, but a collective voice about a policy that they would like to see in place.

A criticism that has come up in regards to the Five College committee is that UMass is the only public institution and does not necessarily have all the same concerns as the other, private schools. A congress of UMass schools would share similar problems pertaining to public institution policies.

The idea of a joint SGA congress came to Schissel over winter break when he was visiting other northeastern colleges and thought how beneficial it would be if colleges across the area worked together. Coming back to UMass, Schissel came up with a plan to bring together the Lowell, Dartmouth, Boston and Amherst UMass campuses to form a sort of open forum.

Regarding any foreseeable challenges with the congress, Schissel said that for the congress to work, it would require the cooperation of all the universities, especially when dealing with other schools’ administrations.

While Schissel is the only person at the moment working on the project, he is confident that once the other schools are on board with the plan, he will need the help of other SGA members to ensure that this project will continue even after this year’s administration.

For now, Schissel is hopeful.

“This should create a sense of community between the SGAs as well as benefit the schools,” he said.

Christina Yacono can be reached at [email protected]