SGA approves a letter to the Chancellor to push for less plastic bottle use

The group took RSO appeals, approved their logo on graphics for the UMass Instagram page


(Anish Roy/Daily Collegian)

By Sophia Gardner , Assistant News Editor

The Student Government Association at the University of Massachusetts had a full agenda for their Wednesday night meeting; they approved a letter to the chancellor, took Registered Student Organization appeals and approved the SGA logo on infographics for the school’s Instagram story.

The SGA took appeals from groups that had applied to be registered student organizations, and not originally been granted this status, at their weekly senate meeting.

They passed a motion which allowed the student National Association for the Advancement of Colored People group to amend their constitution, so that it would meet the requirements for RSOs in the bylaws.

The group was originally denied for not including details about amending their own constitution in the future. In the previous academic year, this portion of their constitution was not contested.

“In my process, I required that all groups had to have [in their constitution] that to amend their constitution, it needed to be approved by the secretary of registry,” said Uju Onochie, the secretary of the registry. “That was the only point that they missed in my opinion.” 

The group amended their constitution to make this change. The SGA then passed a motion to grant the NAACP official registered student organization status, once it was in accordance with the bylaws.

The Cold Case Club also amended their constitution to meet the bylaw’s requirements, and the SGA the granted them official registered student organization status.

They also granted the First-Generation Low-Income Student Partnership official registered student organization status, as well as the school’s first Pokemon Club, The Bee Keeping Club and the Playing Instruments Together Creating Harmony group.

They also approved a motion to encourage the University to establish a working group to discuss the future creation of a first generation or low-income student support center.

The working group would consist of a combination of students passionate about the issue, as well as administrators.

This support center would help provide resources for first generation or low-income students.

They also approved a motion to support the creation of a Latinx defined residential community on campus.

In a survey asked 171 students if they supported the introduction of a Latinx community, and only two students said no.

“There’s a need for this in the community . . . and this is something that students want,” said Carla Montilla, the chair of the social justice and empowerment committee.

The SGA approved the use of their logo on a series of infographics that will be shared on the @UMass Instagram page. These graphics were created by the Center for Education, Policy and Advocacy’s Debt-Free Future Campaign. They depict visual representations of how state funding of the UMass system affects tuition rates.

The University wants the SGA’s approval on any student content posted on the school’s Instagram page.

“[The University] said that they do want anything that would go on the UMass Instagram story from a student group to pass through the SGA since we are the elected student body representatives,” said Sonya Epstein, the secretary of University policy and external affairs.

The SGA and the UMass social media team have not yet decided on a date to share the graphics.

They also endorsed a letter to the chancellor that pushes the University to move away from its use of plastic water bottles. The letter acknowledges a disconnect between the University’s values regarding sustainability, and its consumption of plastic water bottles.

“This is essentially a motion to endorse a letter,” Senator Adam Lechowicz said, “to get the University to transition away from single use plastic bottles.”

In 2012, there was a similar issue that ended in the University deciding not to ban plastic water bottles because of their Coca-Cola pouring rights contract, according to a Collegian article.

“If UMass students want to see a change in the way that the University sells bottled water, student activism needs to be the driver, and if the students don’t do anything, it’s not going to happen,” Epstein said.

According to the letter, the office of waste management reported of 234,172 pounds of plastic water bottle waste yearly. This statistic is at odds with the University’s morals.

The Coca-Cola contract is set to expire in 2023, so starting to discuss the issue now will set the tone for that decision, according to the senators who spoke.

The SGA also feels that they need to push this movement because of their recent declaration of a climate emergency.

“It’s about beginning the conversation,” Lechowicz said.

Sophia Gardner can be reached at [email protected]