Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Student agencies offer the UMass community new opportunities outside college life

“Emphasis on student leadership allows our agency to accurately serve the greater campus community.”
Daily Collegian (2021)

For the more than 30,000 students at the University of Massachusetts, student-run agencies provide resources and support for numerous causes. Officially recognized by the Student Government Association (SGA), these 12 agencies range from student advocacy to emergency medical services.

Center for Education Policy & Advocacy (CEPA)

The Center for Education Policy and Advocacy (CEPA) serves as a support organization for advocacy groups across UMass. Centered around student voices, CEPA works to help movements build from the ground up.

“I feel like I have a responsibility in campaigns,” said Prisha Dayal, a sophomore majoring in political science and social thought and political economy. Dayal came to UMass interested in social justice initiatives. CEPA provided her with an immediate opportunity to work on campaigns; she is now the campaign coordinator for one of their three current initiatives, the food justice campaign.

CEPA is also campaigning for a debt-free future, where they have been working to help steer the Debt-Free Future Act in the Massachusetts State House. They are also working on restorative justice, a community-based movement that advocates for education and conversation instead of punitive consequences. CEPA has also started an animal rights campaign that was formed from student interest in the cause.

Gil Kim, a senior legal studies and psychology major, joined CEPA in the spring of her first year at UMass. She emphasized that CEPA is completely student-run, from training to leadership. Instead of a hierarchical structure, CEPA uses facilitators to discuss how they approach issues.

“We’re a student-power organization. We’re here to empower students. If we teach students to advocate for themselves, they’ll learn to advocate for others,” Kim said.

For those interested in working with CEPA, you can come to the CEPA office in the Student Union where they have staff working most mornings. For those who have specific interests, CEPA offers one-on-one meetings where students can see how CEPA can support them.

Additionally, the debt-free future campaign meets Thursdays at 6 p.m., the food justice campaign meets Wednesdays at 7 p.m., the restorative justice campaign meets Mondays at 5:30 p.m. and the animal rights campaign meets Fridays at 5 p.m.


Center for Student Businesses

The University has the most student-run cooperatives in the United States. Started in 1975, the Center for Student Businesses works to provide support to the seven co-ops. The center provides, “co-curricular training and education in financial management, cooperative administration, and organizational development,” according to its website.

The center currently employs around 125 undergraduate students to, “provide fiscal oversight and act as advocates for the businesses.”


Student Legal Services Office (SLSO)

A student-funded law office, Student Legal Services Office provides legal advice for any fee-paying UMass student or student group. According to their website, SLSO offers free and confidential advice; in limited circumstances, they can represent students in court.

The SLSO has attorneys and law clerk on staff. They also offer student employment options and legal assistant internships for undergraduate students.


Student Organizational Resource Center (SORC)

The UMass Student Organizational Resource Center (SORC) helps the “over 300 established student organizations (ESO)” on campus. Groups can book appointments with the SORC to get help with finances, event ticketing, Agreement for Services (AFS), security, catering among other things. SORC also provides bookable conference rooms for meetings.

For help, you can visit SORC’s campus pulse website here.


Student Union Art Gallery

 The Student Union Art Gallery, located on the bottom floor of the Student Union, has been active since 1957 and is the oldest gallery on campus. Entirely student-run, the Student Union Art Gallery hosts “diverse exhibits and events for over 8,000 visitors a year.”

The gallery, “is dedicated to involving all constituents of the greater UMass community in our programming, exhibitions and events as a student-run site of accessible creativity and expression.”

The gallery “strives to provide an opportunity for students, staff, faculty, alumni and visiting artists to present their work to the public in a professional and accessible manner.”

They most recently exhibited the show, “Tierra/Terror: Works by Vick Quezada.”

For updates on exhibits, visit the gallery’s campus pulse website here.


Student Union Craft Center

The Student Union Craft Center serves as the maker space for the UMass and five-college community. With a broad range of tools and resources, the Craft Center provides students with an open space to work or get help on different projects.

The Craft Center has 13 designated areas for different crafts, from metal smithing and stained glass to bookmaking and photography. The Craft Center “has all the tools, machinery and materials” required for any project. Many of these tools and machinery can be expensive or inaccessible for students, but the Craft Center provides them free of charge for UMass students.

The Craft Center’s broad offerings were what attracted Galen Oey-Langen to it. Prior to coming to UMass, Oey-Langen enjoyed sewing but realized that moving into a dorm would prevent him from taking his sewing machine. A Google search sparked his interest in the Craft Center and he was hired as a co-manager his freshman year.

“You can come in here without even knowing what craft you want to do,” Oey-Langen said. He found that the Craft Center was a welcoming community where students could come in with little to no skills. A senior studying nursing, Oey-Langen is currently working on a jean jacket with patches from every area.

“A lot of seniors come in and say, ‘wow I wish I came here sooner’,” Oey-Langen said.

The Craft Center is typically open from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday, hours vary depending on staff availability. They usually open applications for staff positions in September.

Oey-Langen explained that spaces like the Craft Center provide an affordable and accessible opportunity. “It’s important for groups like this to be student-run as a student-forward space,” Oey-Langen said. “Administration doesn’t prioritize the same things students do.”



StudentBridges started over 15 years ago to “build access and success for underrepresented students” for the UMass community. Today the agency works to build, “partnerships at UMass and with local schools and community organizations, offering academic courses, college awareness, preparation and success activities, and advocating for enhanced institutional and public policies and practices,” said Mahoro Shimiro, a senior sustainable community development major. Shimiro is also the undergraduate program coordinator for StudentBridges.

Shimiro discovered the group after taking a service learning course offered by StudentBridges. In one semester, Shimiro “was introduced to a new way of conceptualizing education and community engagement.”

“I found that I was able to reflect on my experiences and share in genuine discussion

with other low-income, first-generation students of color (and of other marginalized identities)

about the importance of holding space for community, building equity and the relationships we are able to build when we integrate asset-based models and mentorship,” Shimiro said.

Shimiro shared that the group runs on a “collaborative model” where “leadership is a shared trait within our staff.” The group hires annually and when positions open; they encourage all students to apply.

“StudentBridges was born out of student organization and advocacy for increased action around representation and access for students otherwise not seen by the University,” Shimiro said. “Because of that, it is important that students are able to remain in control of the agency’s resources and endeavors.”

“Emphasis on student leadership allows our agency to accurately serve the greater campus community.”


UMass EMS is the student-run emergency medical services agency that provides stand-by services to events across campus. From concerts at the Mullins Center to football games at McGuirk Alumni Stadium, UMass EMS employs students to serve as trained and licensed EMTs.

Colby Myers, the executive director of UMass EMS, joined his freshman year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Already certified as an EMT, Myers found the opportunity to work for UMass EMS as a “place of connection on campus” with everything being mostly remote.

Myers explained that students who join UMass EMS can not only work shifts but also gain “opportunities to join leadership positions, become certified CPR/AED/First Aid instructors through ECSI, attend weekly trainings, attend national conferences, get continuing education experiences, volunteer opportunities and so much more.”

“Joining UMass EMS has been by far the greatest experience at UMass as it has brought me so many great experiences, both professionally and socially,” Myers said.

To join, students must have an MA EMT-B license. For those interested, UMass EMS hires members twice a year, during February and September. Potential applicants undergo a testing process and if certain criteria is met, employees go through a full-day orientation.

“Our next application opens in January and will close in the middle of February right before our Orientation Weekend,” Myers said. “All information on how to join can be found on our website.”

Myers also highlighted how important it is for campus agencies to be student-run. “Not only are we working on behalf of the entire campus community, but we are able to provide a welcoming and like-minded environment for members to grow and gain many professional development opportunities that will benefit members for life after undergrad,” he said.

“Also, the most important stakeholders for on-campus issues and topics are students so being able to enact the change we want to see and provide a welcoming community through the work that we do is so invaluable.”

University Programming Council (UPC)

 The University Programming Council is an agency run by undergraduate students who help to plan and execute events on campus. UPC oversees events such as the Spring Concert, Big Chill, UMass Got Talent and speaker series. With the COVID-19 pandemic, UPC has worked to provide virtual planning for students off-campus.

For more information or to get involved, visit their website.



The Union Video Center (UVC-TV) is a video production center for students at UMass. Run completely by students UVC-TV works, “to serve as a training facility for all aspects of video production, while providing undergraduate students with a welcoming environment in which to learn, create, and collaborate.”

UVC-TV hosts weekly shows for UMass news, sports and a sketch-comedy show. They also have an extensive archive of previous material. UVC-TV works closely with other student groups, providing training to “record and edit their own events.”

Founded in 1976 as a student project, the agency currently helps other agencies with event coverage, “such as Rail Jam, UMass Got Talent, Cultural Nights, concerts, and any events for and by students and weekly live streaming of SGA meetings.”

To join or find out more information, visit their website here.



WMUA is a “student-led creative outlet for the student body of UMass Amherst,” said Kate Horgan, a senior studying communication and psychology and the general manager of WMUA. The radio station has been a staple of western Massachusetts airways since 1948. Working to connect student voices with broadcast, WMUA is completely student-led. All of the content and decisions are made by students and the staff is managed by students.

WMUA offers a five-week-long D.J. training for students interested in going on-air. Horgan emphasized that the training is not an instructor teaching you, but rather a collaborative effort. Once you complete an open-book test, students have the chance to work in different sections, including music, news and sports.

The organization also provides students with opportunities outside of radio. Those interested in the history of music can work with WMUA in the archival process of digitizing their physical vinyl collection. Additionally, WMUA is looking to begin podcasting training during the spring 2023 semester. “If you have something you’re interested in, there’s an avenue for you in WMUA,” Horgan said.

“What made me stay was how committed everyone is to WMUA,” Horgan said. “This was the only one that I personally joined where they were so passionate about what they were doing and getting people involved.”

To get involved, WMUA hosts a once-a-month staff meeting across all sections at their station in the student union. Each section also holds its own separate meetings.

Alex Genovese can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @alex_genovese1.

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