Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Worcester, Student Union renovations among subjects of first SGA Senate session

By Will Soltero

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(Collegian File Photo)

Ambitious building renovations may be approaching in the near future for the University of Massachusetts.

The first UMass Student Government Association Senate session of the 2017-18 academic year took place Monday evening, and talk of renovations to the aging Worcester Dining Commons and Student Union was the focus of returning members such as Student Trustee Derek Dunlea.

“Worcester was built in…1953, it’s basically a structural disaster that costs the university huge amounts of money every year just maintaining it,” SGA President Anthony Vitale said in an address to the Senate. “So, [the UMass] Auxiliary Services is looking to…either renovate Worcester Dining Commons or rip [it] down and build a new [dining hall].”

While a timetable for construction on either Worcester or the Student Union is not yet in place, the desire for updates to these oft-frequented buildings on campus is there.

“How many of you have been to Worcester?” asked Vitale, prompting most hands in the packed Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall to raise their hand. “Now how bad is it?” Dunlea asked in an immediate follow-up. A chorus of laughter and some understanding nods filled the room for a moment before the two continued their speech.

In his second year working on the project, Vitale said that a lot of progress has been made in the planning of renovations to the Student Union, where  four student businesses, spaces for clubs and some University offices, as well as the SGA offices themselves are located.

“The University is actively interested in pursuing the idea of renovating the building itself,” Vitale said. “We’re actually working along with them to determine a timeline and the funding sources for a newly renovated building.”

According to Vitale, current plans by the University and the SGA seek to renovate the existing structure of the Student Union, which was built in 1956.

“The University hired a design team…we worked with them and we came up with some really great design studies,” Vitale added.

In addition to the updates on the multi-year building projects, the first meeting of the year provided 26 newly-elected senators the chance to witness the legislative process of the governing body in which they now vote.

The meeting saw the class of primarily-freshman senators, whose election results were publicly announced on Sept. 22, officially sworn into office; all were assigned to one of the seven committees in the Senate.

The freshmen senators are the earliest to ever be elected to the SGA, which held elections for this year’s sophomore, junior and senior senators last fall to ease the transition this year.

“[It was] simply to make Senate run faster,” said Ryan Jackson, Chancellor of the Election Commission on the perks of an earlier election.

Jackson also said that while it was difficult to compare the voting rate of 17 percent in elections this fall to past numbers, as the election was the first of its kind. 22 percent of the student body voted in SGA elections last spring, which is the highest rate ever seen at the University.

Now that big-picture goals and introductions are taken care of, SGA meetings will begin to tackle subjects such as a completely revamped Registered Student Organizations registration process, adjustments to campus disciplinary processes and a series of how-to videos for campus technology usage in the coming weeks.

Will Soltero can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @willsoltero.

1 Comment

One Response to “Worcester, Student Union renovations among subjects of first SGA Senate session”

  1. SGA alumni on September 26th, 2017 11:43 pm

    Does the current Chancellor have a case of amnesia? The elections were in the fall last year as well. Turnout was double the paltry mess that it is now. Shame on the PR wing of the SGA

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