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: Zach Bhattacharjee and Ellie O’Donnell

Bhattacharjee and O’Donnell running for president and vice president
Daily Collegian Archives (2021).

Zach Bhattacharjee and Ellie O’Donnell have been friends since they joined the Student Government Association their freshman year. Now juniors, Bhattacharjee and O’Donnell are running for president and vice president with the goal of representing the student voice at the University of Massachusetts.

Bhattacharjee, presidential nominee and current secretary of registry spent the bulk of his time on the SGA working closely with RSOs. A core goal is implementing a space renewal plan for Registered Student Organizations, many of whom lost space in the new Student Union.

O’Donnell, running for vice president, consistently focused on social justice and advocacy in her work for the SGA. Currently, O’Donnell fills both the role of vice chair of the social justice and empowerment committee and deputy under-secretary of university policy.

“We both have a deep knowledge of the SGA,” Bhattacharjee said.

“I think it’s important that we have two experienced people to fill these important roles,” O’Donnell added.

Both political science majors, Bhattacharjee and O’Donnell share a commitment passion for the work they do as members of the SGA.

“Taking on a leadership role is not something that is easy,” O’Donnell said. “Zach and I are very willing to sacrifice our own time.”

“When I first started SGA I had no idea some of these positions were paid, and now I’m in a paid position, but I always tell people I would do it for free,” Bhattacharjee added. “There are definitely weeks that I work more than I get paid for but it’s because what we do is valuable.”

If elected, the two hope to implement what they call the space renewal plan, which will ensure RSOs who lost space in the new Student Union are allocated space for storage or gatherings in new construction projects.

“We have approximately 375 RSOs, new ones start every year, [yet] they don’t have space,” Bhattacharjee said.

This plan would focus mainly on providing more permanent space for cultural groups to host events and gatherings. Both Bhattacharjee and O’Donnell noted the importance of providing spaces for BIPOC students, as well as continued support for anti-racist values on campus.

“This university is paid for by students through their taxes [and] through their tuition,” Bhattacharjee said. “This is the University of the students and without them it’s really nothing.”

“At the end of the day UMass is going to tie back to all of our names so we want to make sure it’s a place that everyone can feel proud to have graduated from,” O’Donnell said.

The two also noted they would push for the reopening of UPub, a bar for the UMass community located in the Campus Center.

“It’s been really hard for things to feel how they did pre-COVID-19,” O’Donnell said. “There is still a degree of community that is left to be built at UMass.”

Building this community, Bhattacharjee said, starts by stabilizing the intercommunications of the SGA. “We have had a lot of leaders that have come and gone and we think there needs to be a change in the way we approach things,” he said.

Outside of the SGA, O’Donnell spends her time working at Antonio’s Pizza in downtown Amherst. “I love it so much,” she said. “I just love interacting with the Amherst community.”

Voting opens Tuesday, March 7, on Campus Pulse.

Grace Lee can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *