Massachusetts Daily Collegian

SGA decides against task force for investigation of claimed unconstitutional university policy

By Stuart Foster

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(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)

(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)

One week ago the Student Government Association Senate voted nearly unanimously to support the creation of a task force to investigate the University of Massachusetts’ Land Use Policy, which the Student Legal Services Office had concluded is unconstitutional.

However, after SGA President Sïonan Barrett vetoed the motion and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Campus Life Enku Gelaye refused to sign it, the SGA unanimously supported the veto of the motion on Monday, which would have created a task force to eliminate all unconstitutional parts of the Land Use policy, after less than five minutes of discussion and no debate.

“There was some miscommunication and not adequate consultation, so I’m okay with the veto,” said Maddie Goldstein, a senior studying sociology and history who is the chair of the SGA’s Social Justice and Empowerment Committee and who helped create the initial motion. “I still have very high interest with this policy and seeing something get done soon.”

SGA Senate Speaker Lauren Coakley said at the meeting that Gelaye did not sign the motion due to a failure of outreach and because Gelaye would not have the authority to sit on the task force.

Coakley said that the UMass Faculty Senate would be better suited to investigating the Land Use policy, which currently limits outdoor speeches and rallies to the hour from noon to 1 p.m. outside the Student Union, and that any student interested in working with the Faculty Senate would be appointed.

“I really don’t think there’s too much at loss here,” Goldstein said. “I don’t think this project is ending.”

Charlotte Kelly, a senior studying political science who is the communication and outreach director of the Center for Education Policy and Advocacy, was one of the writers of the motion outside of the SGA and was critical of the SGA for supporting the veto.

“Ultimately this task force was in the best interest of students,” Kelly said. “The SGA is supposed to represent student voices, this is a policy that directly effects students on a day to day basis.”

Kelly said that Gelaye, who SGA members said in the meeting was not properly consulted, was sent an email which was not responded to.

Members in the SGA meeting also said that changing the Land Use Policy was not an authority held by Gelaye, but could only be done through the UMass Board of Trustees.

“The Vice Chancellor or anyone in Administration does not have the power to change it,” said Chantal Lima Barbosa, the vice president of the SGA and a legal studies and political science major.

However, Kelly said that the second article of the Land Use policy states that Gelaye has some of this authority. That section of the document reads that “the general authority and responsibility for the administration of these regulations lies with the Chancellor and is delegated to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.”

While Kelly said that the Faculty Senate has some control over the Land Use policy, fundamental changes would have to come from the Office of the Vice Chancellor.

Kelly said that the Office of Student Affairs had not specifically addressed this policy in 26 years, and that part of the motivation for writing the motion was a perceived lack of impetus from the Office to deal with the unconstitutionality of policies’ language.

“This motion has been assembled by so many different groups on campus,” Kelly said. “There are loads of groups of students who are asking for this task force to be started.”

In addition to the First Amendment rights violated by the policy, Kelly said that the Land Use policy opens the door to new policies such as restrictions on when and where student groups can promote events and causes with chalk on campus and what kind of banners can be hung by groups on campus.

Kelly said that the UMass Administration is trying to shift blame and responsibility for fixing the policy and that Gelaye is dealing with the issue non-directly.

“It really makes me question her commitment to student voices,” Kelly said.

Kelly also said that the SGA was fulfilling the requests of the UMass Administration at the cost of abandoning student interests, and that the SGA should not check with the Administration to ensure that its actions are acceptable.

“Our Student Government is complacent and willing to subjugate itself to administrative dictates,” she said. “I worry that by saying this the SGA will defund my organization for doing their job and holding the SGA accountable.”

The task force proposed in the motion would have been composed of 60 percent students and 40 percent administrators.

Members of the SGA, the Center for Education Policy and Advocacy, the Graduate Student Senate, the Graduate Employee Organization and a designee of the Director of Student Legal Services would have been permanent fixtures of the task force.

Stuart Foster can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @Stuart_C_Foster


23 Responses to “SGA decides against task force for investigation of claimed unconstitutional university policy”

  1. Cicero on April 5th, 2016 1:11 am

    Ah yes, the daily prophet, proponents of shoddy journalism and hit-pieces disguised as news. You fine citizens fail to mention that the unimpeachable Miss Kelly took great pains to conceal the whole plan from various administration figures, who are actually in support of changing the land use policy. You also failed to cover her feeble attempts to justify not giving graduate students a voice in the original planned task force and her deliberately lying to the Senate, in order to get the plans passed. And finally, the motion stated that the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs will create the task force and will be a chair, but the irreproachable Miss Kelly failed to consult any sponsors of said motion on that issue, or even the aforementioned Vice Chancellor, a clear sign she had something to hide.
    In any case, it seems that the esteemed Miss Kelly is still bitter over her and her two-bit agency’s constant failures to take over the democratically elected Student Government, and such pathetic outcomes have made her nothing more than sour grapes to any thought of working with administration, which is part of the mission of student government. A mission that the Student Government Association fully supports, while at the same time ensuring accountability and openness via such instruments as the Wellman Document and the newly-signed Consultation Policy. The indubitable Miss Kelly also seems to have forgotten the push by the Student Government Association to keep the Undergraduate Research Conference going, their support for RSOs and Student Businesses, and their hard work lobbying the State of Massachusetts for tuition and fee freezes. Perhaps she should simply graduate with what little dignity she still has left, rather than continue whipping dead horses.

  2. deep toot on April 5th, 2016 9:07 am

    YOOOOOOOOOO^ that being said, as someone who will be in the SGa next year, im going to do all I can to ensure that CEPA is defunded.

  3. Zac Bears on April 5th, 2016 10:04 am

    Tip of the fedora to you, anonymous coward Cicero.

  4. Kendall Tate on April 5th, 2016 10:25 am

    Since this article fails to give the reasoning for the veto or point out that the project will continue (just not in its originally planned layout of a task force), I’ve quoted my notes on the veto from last night’s meeting below.

    This is being vetoed by President Barrett and VC Gelaye did not sign it because the people on the board did not consult with her before forming this board. We met with Enku today and she thinks it’s extremely important, but she doesn’t think she’s the best person for this board because she cannot make these changes; it would have to go to a Faculty Senate committee for Student Affairs. MJ Peterson is involved with this, and is on board to have these conversations. We will appoint someone to that committee for next semester – if you’re interested, it can be any undergraduate. The VC thinks that is the best, most effective forum for these discussions. Will move forward with this project, just in a different format than a task force.

  5. @ deep toot more like deep poop on April 5th, 2016 10:46 am

    I’m glad that you proved Charlotte’s point. Anyone who raises concerns or criticism with the SGA will having their funding threatening. Way to silence students and strike fear into the people who are suppose to be representing. Thats a great way to deal with dissent and criticism, rather than listening and engaging with that criticism.

  6. Zac Bears on April 5th, 2016 11:04 am

    Actually, Kendall, the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs has full authority to submit proposed changes to the Board of Trustees. To say otherwise is a lie. The section says that the Faculty Senate “may advise,” but not that it *must* advise, and the subsequent clause says that any community member may present proposals for revision directly to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, and that the VC can submit those revisions directly to the Board of Trustees. The Faculty Senate is purely advisory in this matter.

    Article Two, Section E: “Any member of the campus community may present proposals for revision, with supporting arguments, to the Council through the Faculty Senate Office *OR* the office of the Vice Chancellor for-Student Affairs. Any modification or amendment of these regulations requires the approval of the Board of Trustees.”

  7. deep toot on April 5th, 2016 11:37 am

    have any of you thought about getting a life

  8. Zac Bears on April 5th, 2016 11:56 am

    Only as much as you’ve thought of getting a brain, tooterino.

  9. Jeremy Tibbetts on April 5th, 2016 12:16 pm

    Yo @deep toot it’s really inappropriate and not neutral to threaten an organization’s funding based on what you think they do, also reinforces a ton of negative and (and based on the above comments) sometimes true stereotypes about our organization that we need to be reflecting on critically. Like it’s criticism, we should be talking about it, I’m sure everyone involved could’ve done something better but rejecting this in the comments just sets us back. A little disappointed by that comment, you should abstain from voting on finances until you can get past some of your bias.

  10. random person on April 5th, 2016 12:35 pm

    As a member of CEPA I think we should be defunded.

  11. Has Been on April 5th, 2016 12:58 pm

    Zac, you’re not Larry Kelley and you never will be.

  12. Other random person on April 5th, 2016 1:11 pm

    As a member of the SGA, I think the SGA should not exist and we should be defunded. We do nothing important.

  13. Sweaty Already on April 5th, 2016 1:18 pm

    I think we need to have a big, sweaty wrestling match. Winner takes all. Loser gets eaten.

  14. defund umass on April 5th, 2016 2:09 pm

    Why dont we just take all the funding, and push it into the campus pond

  15. Zac Bears on April 5th, 2016 2:15 pm

    “If SGA put as much time into the student body as they did into defending their sloppiness and ineffectiveness, we’d be the best damn public university in the world. The SGA is 365 days of April Fools.” – Genesis 1

  16. toot deeper on April 5th, 2016 4:16 pm

    can anyone actually point to a concrete achievement that cepa has has besides running out of batteries for their megaphones

  17. Anansi Bhuoy on April 5th, 2016 4:35 pm

    Yo butt out Tibbets this ain’t yo business. Where all the budgets y’all promised us RSOs, we wanna know how much less money you cheapskates is giving us next year

  18. 420noscope on April 5th, 2016 5:33 pm

    lmao deep toot^ im w u

  19. Josh Odam on April 5th, 2016 6:05 pm

    I just came for the comments. Y’all never disappoint.

  20. Zareb Noel on April 5th, 2016 6:39 pm

    Damn, I thought we were cutting the petty out of politics and getting to WORK!

  21. Zareb Noel on April 5th, 2016 6:40 pm

    I mean…that’s what y’all voted for….right?

  22. Nareb Zoel on April 5th, 2016 9:53 pm

    Well, seeing as how that’s the next administration, and they only start next semester, you do the sums. Besides, the students have consistently rejected seepage and their agenda for the past several elections, so these lies are worth less than a water chicken. In any case, this brings up the idea that if someone calls you a jackass, you insult his mother. He calls you a jackass again, you kick his face in. He calls you jackass again, maybe you oughtta go look for a cart to pull.

  23. Luna on April 6th, 2016 12:29 am

    Zac Bears, haven’t you already graduated? Focus on Washington politics.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.

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