Massachusetts Daily Collegian

SGA presents new sexual harassment policy, changes to RSO applications and progress on social justice movements

Many progressive movements across campus are ramping up

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Caroline O'Connor/Collegian

Caroline O'Connor/Collegian

Caroline O'Connor/Collegian

By Irina Costache, Collegian Correspondent

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In their second meeting of the school year, held on Monday Oct. 9, the University of Massachusetts Student Government Association introduced new campus policies regarding sexual harassment, as well as new improvements to the registered student organization application process. The SGA also built on topics from the previous week, including social justice initiatives, meal plan prices and athletic funding.

One of the first talking points of the meeting was on the new policy on sexual harassment and discrimination, introduced by University Title IX coordinator Débora Ferreira. The first draft policy was submitted to the SGA on Sept. 18. During her presentation, Ferreira was adamant about stressing that “this is not a policy just around sexual assault. It’s around harassment and discrimination in its totality.”

“We want to make sure that we’re eliminating the conduct, we’re making sure that it stops, we’re making sure to prevent its recurrence, making sure that it does not repeat again on campus and within our community and addresses the effects,” Ferreira said. “We’re providing accommodations, we’re providing resources, we’re taking steps after investigation to put in place discipline, training, maybe policy changes. We’re taking the steps to make sure that we’re providing the full remedies.”

Ferreira also acknowledged that “This is a consultative period that we’re in. This is a draft policy, this is a first step.”

One of the biggest proposed changes is the merging of Sexual Harassment Policy Procedures with the Grievance Policy Procedures. Currently, the University has two separate policies. The policy outlines the code of conduct in dealing with protected group statuses and would set separate procedures for different responding parties on campus. This would be the sole overarching policy for prohibiting conduct based on civil rights and protected groups statuses.

The meeting also addressed changes regarding RSOs. “I am proud to say we finally have an active RSO list,” announced SGA Advisor Lydia Washington.

The SGA voted on changes to the application process of RSOs to improve clarity in the registration process and to address the current unsustainable growth in RSOs. The new application period will be cut down to two calendar weeks from the previous four allotted weeks.

SGA members also touched on their efforts to address the recent racially targeted incidents on campus.

SGA President Timmy Sullivan said, “Vice President Amazan and I met with the Chancellor’s campus leadership council last Thursday with about 20 administrators from his staff. We had two students with us from Melville…What we talked about is how we can support students of color on this campus, [and] the Du Bois Legacy project – which is something that our secretary of diversity is working on…One thing that we were able to do is build, I would say support…for the Du Bois Legacy project.”

Timothy Scalona, chair of the Social Justice and Empowerment Committee, commented, “We’re writing two letters, one that is condemning the hate crimes and providing our own response to what we believe the University should follow in terms of responding to incidents like that and how they define ‘hate crime’ vs. ‘bias incident.’”

Sullivan also spoke of his progress to achieve food security within UMass.

“I’m working with a student from GSS and APO on a food pantry,” Sullivan said. “We should be in the business of feeding as many people as possible.”

Toward the end of the meeting, Kyle Kendall, a senator currently sitting on the athletic faculty committee, addressed cutting student fees in athletics, claiming the “end goal is to keep reducing the amount of student fees that athletics is requesting to hopefully keep student fees down.” The committee ultimately aims “to reduce it to no money coming in from undergraduate students whatsoever,” according to Kendall. The money is being countered with corporate sponsor from companies such as Adidas, Coca Cola and Powerade.

Editor’s note: Timothy Scalona is a columnist for The Massachusetts Daily Collegian.

Irina Costache can be reached at [email protected]

1 Comment

One Response to “SGA presents new sexual harassment policy, changes to RSO applications and progress on social justice movements”

  1. amy on October 10th, 2018 12:43 am

    Wow “social justice initiatives” and how many people care exactly? I think Umass needs to be defined by the winners again; the strong, the successful, the intelligent; not the losers of our school who want to shame our college and drag it int down into silly emotional diatribes and fantasy utopia illusions and to put all of us into boxes of race,gender, class, privilege.

    When I graduate I want to look at peers that are respectable and that I went to a respectable college that focused on excellence, success, achievement; not a freak show that was racist, socialist and worshiped the lowest common denominator.

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