SGA sponsors online Amherst town hall meeting

The meeting will allow students to express their COVID-19 concerns to representatives

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(Anish Roy/Daily Collegian)

By Sophia Gardner, Assistant News Editor

The Student Government Association at the University of Massachusetts officially voted to sponsor an Amherst town meeting with both local and state leadership in response to the COVID-19 pandemic during their April 8 senate meeting.

This event was planned by the Center for Education Policy and Advocacy and several representatives of the town and the state. The meeting will take place online on Thursday, April 23 at 5 p.m. The event will serve as an “opportunity for students to speak to Amherst representatives and get more clarity on what they are doing to support constituents during this global pandemic,” read the motion.

“Everyone from the five colleges is invited to get together to discuss what’s going on and really talk to our representatives to see what they’re doing to help us during this time,” SGA Senator Suthaney Sundar said. “Really there’s no one out here campaigning for students . . .  so, this is a good chance to get involved and straight up ask [our representatives], ‘What are you doing to help us?’”

The SGA also voted to sign a letter which requested that the dean of the Commonwealth Honors College, Gretchen Gerzina, as well as several other administrators, extend the deadline for honors theses. The deadline was originally April 29.

The letter is a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the University to ban undergraduate students from continuing their scientific work in the campus’ laboratories. As a result, many students are being asked to “reorient or overhaul their thesis work significantly close to the deadline,” read the motion.

“[Adjusting the deadline] will provide necessary additional time for people who are currently working to navigate unexpected family, financial, housing, employment and laboratory situations while they complete their school work,” read the letter.

Senator Jordan McCarthy also suggested that honors thesis students be allowed to finish their research over the summer.

“People do scientific research during the summers and a lot of us want that to actually count towards our thesis because we could get some pretty good results during that time,” McCarthy said.

The letter also urges that University to take into account that some honors theses students may be working to help combat the COVID-19 crisis.

“A lot of my friends are currently working on their theses while working on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis,” said Joseph McGaunn, a senior honors thesis student majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology as well as psychology. “I believe that support from the SGA, as well as support from just the general student body, would provide additional leniency.”

Sophia Gardner can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @sophieegardnerr.