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

SGA Senate preparing for election season

Third SGA meeting of the year swears in senators
Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian (2022)

Speaker Claire Sheedy called the third SGA meeting of the year to order on Feb. 22. Eight senators were sworn in, and preparations to elect senators for the next year are being made. The senate also discussed the new Chancellor and Title IX laws.

Jules Purnell, an educator from the UMass office of Equal Opportunity and Access, opened the meeting by giving the SGA senate a brief training on Title IX, the wide-ranging federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and offers protection for those suffering from sexual harassment. Title IX applies to all workers on campus due to the federal funding UMass receives. A handful of SGA members work on an hourly basis under student affairs, and therefore must be familiar with the law’s provisions.

President Shayan Raza apologized for not sending his report out prior to the meeting, citing a “hectic past 7 days.” He announced the commencement of elections using a “fully virtual mode of nominations.” Over 100 potential candidates have signed up so far, leading Raza to proclaim the SGA as “the most popular spot on campus.” The spring election will elect the president and vice president, along with senators and the student trustee. Nominations for these offices close on March 1, and voting will occur between March 7-10.

Outreach Chair Mackenzie McNeil cited the need to “increase outreach this year for the election as we always barely reach the threshold, which is 5 percent.”

SGA is planning a poster campaign to raise student awareness. However, awareness in the senate is not lacking. Administrative Affairs Chair Collins warned the senate not to get members to sign their nomination petitions during a SGA meeting, as it constitutes a campaign violation. Several members were warned before the meeting for passing their phones around so senators could sign their petitions. This would violate the rule against using SGA resources in a campaign.

President Shayan Raza also addressed the chancellor transition and spoke with current Chancellor Subbaswamy about three requests the SGA has for incoming Chancellor Reyes.

Raza requested a meeting with SGA leadership, for the new chancellor to attend a SGA meeting, and to organize a “meet your chancellor” event jointly held with SGA. He’s waiting “to see how many of those things go through.”

Secretary of Finance Joshua Gauthier is working on a new process for the SGA to audit their financial books and is reaching out to other schools to find a system that he can “make our own in a way.”

Gauthier is drafting the potential club sports agreement, which stemmed from a miscommunication between past student administrations on the funding of the turf fields, which SGA paid about half of. The agreement is being struck between Auxiliary Enterprises, who are responsible for renting out campus spaces and the SGA. Gauthier would like for half the revenue raised by renting to be given to the SGA so it can go “right into student’s pockets” via the RSO funding process.

Gauthier also polled the room on a fundraiser at Hot Table. A voice vote failed, and an informal hand raising was instead held. Thursday won.

Undergraduate Services Chair Lily Bruce had conversations with PVTA about the shortage of bus drivers. She characterized PVTA’s position as being that “students won’t drive buses because they use cannabis,” a suggestion she strongly objected to.

Due to federal law, all PVTA drivers are subject to random drug testing, and PVTA believes that this disincentives students with any use pattern of medical or recreational cannabis. Although cannabis in most forms is legal in Massachusetts, marijuana is still a Schedule I substance on the federal level. Bruce believes that lower wages and higher hours are what have led to only 80% of driver spots being filled. PVTA wages start at 19 dollars an hour, making the job one of the most lucrative student jobs on campus.

Chair John Harvey was proud to announce that Ways and Means had finished the allocation of 2.1 million for club sports. The budget allocation process will continue through the semester. Harvey also serves on the UMass financial advisory board and informed the senate of a potential tuition increase. The university is citing “increased costs in general” as justification.

Eight students were confirmed as senators for previously vacant seats. John Dacey, a finance and political science major, served three semesters as the chair of ways and means and is “excited to be back.” Emmanuelle Sussman, the vice president of Students for Justice in Palestine, was appointed to a seat in the class of 2024. Sam Costa, a political science major, Thanh Le, a finance and computer science major who proclaimed that he “goes by Thanos most of the time,” Amritha Chivukula, an OIM and geography major, Hanna Jiang, a Psychology Major, and Pratusha Nouduri, an economics major, were all appointed to vacant seats in the class of 2025. They are joined by Sadaf Tokhi, a journalism major, who will be filling a 2024 seat as a member of the class of 2025. Each senator was selected after an interview process and all were immediately sworn in.

Daniel Frank can be reached at [email protected].

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