SGA covers Coach Whipple letter endorsement and the policing of Southwest dorms during latest meeting

Academic policy changes were also discussed

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Jon Asgeirsson/Collegian

By Irina Costache, Collegian Staff

During its Monday meeting, the University of Massachusetts Student Government Association Senate announced a new bike share program, incoming changes to University academics and officially endorsed a letter condemning football coach Mark Whipple’s controversial comment.

The SGA also discussed a new campaign concerning policing of the Southwest dorms, a new initiative for Moodle courses on diversity and the usage of standardized tests in the University’s admission process.

Toward the end of its meeting, the Senate unanimously passed a motion to allow the Social Justice and Empowerment Committee to endorse a letter addressed to Chancellor Subbaswamy and the campus community concerning Coach Whipple’s use of the word “rape” in reference to a recent team upset.

Along with recommending a plan of action, SOJEC chair Timothy Scalona explained that the letter is “trying to address the culture that contributed to these comments in the first place, and also trying to move beyond rather than simply calling him out for doing this. Also seeing what ways we can improve the campus along with athletics, so that comments like these are not made and that we have a more educated student body, so we can create a safer environment for those that are affected by this.”

Senator Colleen Coakley also spoke about developments in the Academic Matters Council, saying, “we approved the creation of a new concentration in the education major; we also approved four courses.” Discussing policy changes, she said that “they’re trying to change, or get in shape, the continuation policy, which is basically on course grade requirements…There’s not a formal policy on [course grade requirements] that’s held by the University and so technically a course should not be requiring a specific grade.” She also announced the development of a continuation program that will make sure students are doing well in their courses and are on track for successfully graduating from their major.

During the meeting, Senator Isa Leonard-Rose announced an upcoming committee meeting for a campaign headed by the Prison Abolition Collective “to get the police out of Southwest dorms because it’s…violating the SGA-GSS joint referendum of 2008.” Leonard-Rose said that the police are not stationed in any other residential area, and pressed a need to address this bias.

Senators expressed a need for more clarification over this initiative, especially on how it would take into account the cadets patrolling the residential area. The campaign is still in its beginning stages and will have its first official meeting in the coming week.

President Timmy Sullivan also discussed possible changes to the University’s admission process, saying, “I met with a professor from the College of Education to talk about SAT and ACT standardized testing in UMass admissions. We had a really productive conversation.” Sullivan said that he has also met with graduate students who are interested in the topic, as well as asked undergraduate senators who are interested in the cause to get involved.

In a progress update to the Senate, Secretary of Diversity Melahicia Virgile said, “I’m going to be working on Moodle courses on diversity and racial bias and getting that implemented to be mandatory.”

Also announced at the meeting was the newly-official bike share program. Alexia Perides, Secretary of Sustainability, explained that it is a free rental program where students, faculty and staff can rent bikes for a year. Students will receive a voucher for one free repair when using the program.

Editor’s Note: Timothy Scalona is a Collegian columnist.

Irina Costache can be reached at [email protected]