Barrett/Barbosa ‘ready on day one’

By Patrick Hoff

(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)
(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)

They have a campaign sticker reminiscent of a former United States presidential campaign, promise to hit the ground running and have a combined four years of experience in the Student Government Association.

In other words, Sïonan Barrett and Chantal Lima Barbosa feel they’re ready for the job.

The duo, running for president and vice president, respectively, prides themselves on being involved throughout campus and are confident they’re ready for the job.

“We have a really good mix … (and) we’re really passionate about anything we do regarding SGA or an organization that we’re really involved with,” Sïonan Barrett said.

Barrett currently serves as the speaker of the SGA Senate, a position she has held for two years. Previously, she served as a senator for the Southwest Residential Area.

Her running mate, Chantal Lima Barbosa, is currently in her first year with the SGA, serving as the Secretary of Public Relations and Recruitment. Lima Barbosa also serves as president of the Cape Verdean Student Alliance, a cultural Registered Student Organization on campus.

“I thought that because I’ve been in SGA for only a year, I was unqualified to participate in this election, but I have fresh view,” Lima Barbosa said. “I hang a lot with students who are not part of SGA so I kind of get their perspective and what they think and I bring it into senate meetings or cabinet.”

Despite the fact that she is not a senator, Lima Barbosa said she participates a lot, making sure her voice is heard, along with the countless other voices she hears from outside the SGA.

Barrett and Lima Barbosa assure voters they are ready to hit the ground running if elected, complete with the slogan, “Ready on Day One.”

“A lot of the things on our platform, we’re already working on,” Barrett said. “We already have the connections with administration and faculty that are needed for this position. We’re not going to need a transition period. We’re going to be ready to go once we’re sworn in.”

The duo said they already have the resources and connections across campus to put their plans into place, including adapting meal plans, better funding for RSOs and better use of student spaces.

“We do need to increase our (Student Activity Trust Fund) fee because even if we look at how our groups are funded, we are still, as a whole, underfunded on such a level that doesn’t allow groups to reach their full potential,” Barrett said. “At other schools that are of comparable size, they have SATF fees of $200 and our SATF fee is $127.”

She added that an increase of $70 to the SATF in one round would be too much but said there needs to be an increase of a couple dollars “to give RSOs some extra support and resources to do what the mission of their RSO is.”

Barrett and Lima Barbosa were hard-pressed to name the most pressing issue on campus.

“I don’t think it’s fair to pick one priority because there’s just so many issues,” Barrett said. “To one student, there might be a bigger priority to them than another, and I think our biggest priority is whatever student comes into our office with an issue that day.”

Barrett worked with administrators a number of times over the past few years to help make students feel more included on their own campus.

“Something that I’ve gathered from all the students throughout these meetings and just talking to administration is that we’re going to have to fight for things that we want, and to do that, you’re going to need people that are experienced and can negotiate with administration and have those connections to do so and to do that strategically,” Barrett said.

Something the campaign feels particularly passionate about is the use of Dining Dollars at student businesses on campus. Currently, Dining Dollars can only be used at retail dining locations owned by University of Massachusetts Dining Services.

“UMass Dining is basically monopolizing the way people spend money on meal plans and (student businesses) deserve to have the same luxury as UMass Dining of being able to use Dining Dollars at their locations,” Barrett said.

Barrett and Barbosa also noted that space in the Student Union is inadequate, either because of decaying rooms or because administrators take precedence when booking rooms in a space meant to be for students. Lima Barbosa said students are “priority number three” when it comes to booking space.

“RSOs can’t book big meeting spaces or planning spaces because, one, it costs too much because it’s not free to students, even in student spaces like the Student Union, or it’s already booked by alumni or administration,” Barrett said.

She added: “Students who want to meet with their groups and students who want to put on events shouldn’t have to pay extraordinary amounts of money when they don’t get enough funding in the first place to do so.”

The campaign also mentioned untapped spaces, such as The Hatch, a former eatery in the Student Union that has sat empty for six months.

One proposal that Barrett has been working on is the construction of a new Student Union, a plan that she hopes will begin to become a concrete reality in the next five years.

“We’re going to be ready the day we’re sworn into office, we’re going to be ready to move on these projects,” Barrett said. “And actually, we’ve already been moving on them before.

“This is a title, and it might help us get things done a little faster, but we’re going to get it done either way, because for us, it’s not about the title. It’s about the change and about helping the campus community. That’s what we’ve been doing and that’s what we want to continue to do.”

Patrick Hoff can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Hoff_Patrick16.