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

Deliberation, debate and celebration: highlights from last week’s SGA meeting

SGA celebrates this year’s achievements while looking forward to the future
Kalina Kornacki / Daily Collegian.

“It’s so great to see everybody at our last substantive, long SGA meeting,” said President Shayan Raza to the governing body, marking the start of the Student Government Association’s 1,894th regular senate meeting, held on May 10 at the Cape Cod Lounge in the Student Union.

After his opening statements, Raza began the meeting with a presentation of the Executive Branch Annual Report, highlighting the major achievements the SGA’s Executive Cabinet made throughout the 2022-2023 academic year.

One by one, each member of the cabinet spoke about the different accomplishments and contributions they made this year, which were broken down into three major categories —Established Student Organizations (ESOs), equity and legitimacy.

During the “equity” portion of the presentation, President Raza announced that the SGA’s Equity Fund, created in Fall 2021, will be renamed to The Dia Fund. The renaming of the fund is in honor of SGA Advisor Lydia Washington, who strived for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) measures at the University of Massachusetts.

“I am so honored,” Washington said, who attended the meeting via Zoom. “To be truly honest, SGA has missed the mark [in funding DEI initiatives] in my years as an advisor, so I am really happy to see this happen. This is so cool.”

This is Washington’s last year with the SGA before she begins her position as the first executive director of student centers at Emory University in October.

The Equity Fund serves to benefit Registered Student Organizations with funding, so long as they incorporate DEI initiatives into their programs. Any RSO at UMass can apply to the Equity Fund.

Following the presentation, roll call and officer reports were called by Speaker Claire Sheedy.

After the roll call, the next item on the agenda was a deliberation on 2023-S1, the SGA’s annual budget act. This year, the budget act aims to allocate an additional $361,000 for RSOs, Agencies and the SGA itself in the fiscal year 2024. The motion was sponsored by the Ways and Means Committee and will increase funding to six of nine RSO councils, as compared to FY2023. This marks the highest amount of annual funding the SGA has ever given to RSOs on campus.

During the deliberation, two groups presented cases for budget appeals for FY2024 as part of 2023-S1. Representatives from men’s rugby and women’s ice hockey teams voiced concerns about funding in next year’s budget, as both groups have negative balances in their finances. Under current budget guidelines, groups with negative balances would not receive funding from the SGA for next year.

The budget appeal requests caused much debate amongst members of the senate, and after more than 45 minutes of debate on 2023-S1, a five-minute recess was called. After recess, a vote by roll call was taken. With 21 “yes” votes, the budget act passed with thunderous applause throughout the room.

The next series of motions voted on by the SGA saw 10 potential candidates for next year’s Executive Cabinet positions be confirmed by the Senate. During the process, each candidate was asked only three questions by senate members to keep the process short. Candidates were all specifically asked how they would incorporate anti-racism into their role if appointed.

Next, the SGA voted in favor of a proposal to allocate $5,000 to the Cape Verdean Student Alliance (CVSA) for a trip to Cape Verde. The CVSA is an RSO dedicated to Cape Verdean student recruitment at the UMass, as well as advocacy for the preservation of Cape Verdean history, culture and identity in the Five College area. It is the oldest cultural organization on campus. Each May, the organization offers a “service learning trip” to Cape Verde, which lets students travel to the African archipelago nation at an affordable cost.

Finally, the SGA voted in favor of the 2023 Space Allocation Proposal, which allocates lockers, storage spaces and meeting rooms for use by ESOs. Lockers and storage spaces are typically located in the Student Union or Bartlett Hall and are used on a first come, first-serve basis.

After the vote passed, members of the senate gave an enthusiastic round of applause, voting swiftly to adjourn the meeting at 10:25 p.m., after three hours and 55 minutes.

Nathan Legare can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @NathanLegare23.

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