SGA President working on creating a dialogue between students and Town of Amherst

By Andy Castillo

(Andy Castillo/Daily Collegian)
(Andy Castillo/Daily Collegian)

Vinayak Rao, president of the UMass Student Government Association and a senior double majoring in communications and investment psychology, is working on establishing a dialogue between students and town officials.

The SGA acts as a liaison between undergraduate students and the administration on campus, relaying issues and difficulties from students to administrators, and works to resolve problems quickly and efficiently. There is no line of communication between town officials and undergraduate students, however.

“Historically, no one in my position has ever helped facilitate a dialogue,” Rao said.

“There’s been a lot of disarray and strained relationships between town residents and UMass students in the past,” he continued.

The communication will allow “a formal way to hold each other accountable, to present issues and not just present them, but to address them and to come to a solution as quickly as possible,” he added.

To facilitate this communication, he is working alongside SGA Vice President Jacob Schissel and the SGA Secretary of University Policy Stefan Herlitz to establish a advisory board for students in Amherst.

The project is in collaboration with Amherst College and Hampshire College, and has the full support of all schools involved as well as the town of Amherst. It should be in place by April.

Rao, who was born in India, moved to the United States when he was 8 years old and came to UMass in 2011, said he cares about what happens to the University both now and down the road. In particular he wants to allow students to be heard in more settings.

“Everyone needs a voice,” he said.

Andy Castillo can be reached at [email protected]