SGA 2022 Elections: Student Trustee Todd Yau

Yau is running for student trustee to improve student services and promote transparency between the UMass community and the Board of Trustees


Shilpa Sweth / Daily Collegian

By Sophie Hauck, Collegian Contributor

University of Massachusetts Student Government Association Senator Todd Yau is running for student trustee to improve student services and promote transparency between the UMass community and Board of Trustees. Yau is double majoring in psychology on the neuroscience track and biochemistry and molecular biology.

“I was sworn into SGA about two weeks ago as part of a special election, but I’ve been interested in running for the trustee position for a long time now,” said Yau, who serves on the SGA Academic Oversight Committee.

“The Board of Trustees seems like it’s very inaccessible,” Yau said. “When I was getting nominations and signatures, people actually asked me, ‘What does the Board of Trustees do?’ ‘What does the student Trustee do?’”

“Overall, they just don’t know this powerful branch in the UMass system. Why is that?” Yau asked.

The student trustee represents the UMass Amherst community to the Board, which makes policy decisions for the entire UMass system.

Yau has centered accessibility through a two-part campaign mission: make students aware of the resources the University offers them, and then further improve these services.

Yau’s emphasis on transparency starts with his financial platform.

“I want to understand and minimize fees and tuition as much as possible,” Yau explained. “As a first-generation student […] It’s so stressful look[ing] at tuition and having to pay this amount of money to the SPIRE paying system and not know where it’s going.”

“Why isn’t there a cost breakdown and itemization of the fees?” Yau asked. “I really want the administration to publish the fee breakdown of where everything goes.”

Yau also wants the University to allocate more money to the UMass Center for Counseling and Psychological Health.

“CCPH is severely underfunded,” Yau said. “They’re lacking clinical psychologists and psychiatrists. If you’re always sending people over to CCPH, and they’re underfunded, how are people going to get help?

“I’m working towards getting more funding over to CCPH so we can get more counselors and psychologists so people can get the help that they need,” Yau continued.

Concerning student food insecurity, Yau is interested in improving campus food security initiatives. Currently, one program allows students experiencing food insecurity to qualify for three days’ worth of emergency supplemental meals.

“That’s such a short period, and you need to apply to get more meals,” Yau explained. “I want to increase that from three days to 11 days so you have meals for 11 days, and then after that, you can reapply. It’s much easier to reapply after a week when you know you’re not going hungry after a few days.”

Yau has also centered anti-racist and inclusive initiatives throughout his campaign, planning for students to fulfill general education requirements by taking classes centering BIPOC industry leaders.

“I’m interested in incorporating racial justice into the Diversity U.S. and Diversity Global credits,” Yau said.

“I took this neurobiology course, and the professor there basically incorporated Black researchers and female Black researchers that contributed to the field,” he recalled.

Yau hopes the University will continue to offer diverse course material. “As an educational institute, it’s what we do best,” he added.

Yau also plans to embrace his STEM academic experience to bring a new voice to the Board of Trustees and SGA.

“By my nature, I am a researcher. I’m really looking forward to seeing what measures are effective, and what can be improved and basically follow-up on everything that gets passed,” he said.

“There’s a lack of scientists in public office. Scientists are really good at finding out what are the problems, and basically tracing those problems back to the source, and trying to look at all different angles to see how we can resolve this problem,” Yau added.

“If students want to vote for me, they can vote for me because they like my policies, and they want a Trustee they can access.”

Voting for the 2022 SGA Spring Election opens on March 1 at midnight and closes on March 4 at 5 p.m. on Campus Pulse.

Sophie Hauck can be reached at [email protected].