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 2023 Elections: Tess Weisman and Joshua Gauthier

Weisman and Gauthier are running for president and vice president
Courtesy of Tess Weisman and Josh Gauthier.

Tess Weisman and Joshua Gauthier may be sophomores at the University of Massachusetts, but they say they are the most seasoned problem-solvers running for the Student Government Association position of president and vice president.

Weisman and Gauthier are committed to supporting Registered Student Organizations and agencies. They want to ensure that SGA leadership reflects the student body’s diversity and welcome an era of accessible student leadership, especially while UMass undergoes a chancellor transition

Weisman, a psychology major, joined the SGA as the secretary of university policy during her freshman year. She was inspired to improve the campus climate after Black students and organizations received the first in a series of anonymous racist emails.

“I felt like the student body wasn’t getting enough answers and we weren’t getting any communication from administration,” Weisman said. “I found the SGA on my own and I thought that it was a great system to communicate with the larger student body and make real change on campus.”

At first, Weisman wasn’t aware of what the SGA did at UMass. “I think that that really just highlights an issue that we’ve talked about, about the larger student body not knowing of SGA and not knowing about the awesome services that we do have,” Weisman said.

Gauthier remembers feeling impressed when Weisman spoke to the SGA Senate before they approved her appointment to an executive leadership role.

“I saw her do questions and answers, and I [thought] she seems like an extremely likable person,” said Gauthier, who studies finance and economics. “Even though she’s a sophomore, she’s going for this leadership position. I know she’s more qualified than half the people out there.”

At the time, Gauthier served as a senator for the class of 2025 and member of the Ways and Means Committee, collaborating with a team of senators to allocate the SGA budget to RSOs and agencies. Gauthier said his role was not glamorous but taught him how to directly impact students’ lives.

“The experience that I got was not so much advocating for students’ needs on these big hot button issues,” Gauthier said. “It’s more, your purchase request takes three weeks, how can we speed that up?”

Gauthier now serves as the secretary of finance and believes his experience managing the “nitty gritty” details of SGA pairs well with Weisman’s ability to relate to people.

“I think Tess’s emotional intelligence and her ability to talk to people and to really empathize with groups… really complements me,” Gauthier said. “Where I’m the more business-y kind of guy, she’s more personable and relatable.”

Weisman and Gauthier intend on taking advantage of their compatible personalities to “keep the SGA on our A-game.”

“We do a lot of this ‘sit on the porch’ and allow the RSOs to come to us, whereas we need to get out there and talk to the RSOs,” Gauthier said. “Town halls, we’re throwing that out. I don’t believe that format is accessible… There’s an air of superiority sometimes that can come with the SGA, and I think that we take off the suits, speak to students like they are real, but also still be professional.”

Weisman emphasized that RSOs need SGA support beyond making budget requests.

“I think RSO space is such a big thing right now. I’ve recently been dealing with a group that’s having to get kicked out of Bartlett, and where do they go?” Weisman said. “I think that is such a universal experience for students.”

Weisman is also committed to modeling the diversity of the UMass student body through the makeup of the SGA.

“I can speak for my own experience on campus as a Black woman… Black students just don’t feel welcome on campus and they don’t feel represented in the SGA,” Weisman said. “When people hear that I’m a part of the SGA, they’re kind of shocked… because I’m Black. When I first joined SGA, I was the only Black person in the room, and I decided to stay because I wanted to be a voice for such an underrepresented population.”

Gauthier added that a representative SGA must capture the range of academic disciplines on campus. He noted that the majority of SGA members study political science, economics, or are members of the Isenberg School of Business. There are very few SGA members who are studying in STEM-related fields. “I think bringing in different academic pursuits and different thoughts can really bring a more fruitful conversation,” Gauthier said.

“We want students to look at us and see themselves in the SGA that they’re looking at, so they can be confident that their SGA is representing them,” Weisman said.

Weisman recommends the SGA promote the exchange of new ideas by increasing dialogue with non-SGA members.

“We do a lot of roundtables with administration, but there’s no student roundtables,” Weisman said. She wants the SGA to host a monthly roundtable of RSO leaders to hear what is important to the student body.

“The best way to move forward is to just solve those problems for students and get down to work… That’s ultimately our biggest competitive advantage, is our experience in solving problems and then getting down to work and actually solving them.”

Voting opens on Tuesday, March 7, on Campus Pulse. The ballot will close on March 10.

Sophie Hauck can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @SophieBHauck.

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    Maria.DossenaMar 8, 2023 at 2:11 pm

    Ho letto.con piacere il tutto e apprezzo.molto quanto state facendo. Complimenti ad.entrambi
    Maria Dossena