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 holds their first Senate meeting for the 2023-2024 school year

Chancellor Javier Reyes holds listening session at SGA’s first meeting this year
Dylan Nguyen

The University of Massachusetts Student Government Association held their first Senate meeting of the 2023-2024 school year in the Cape Cod Lounge of the Student Union on Oct. 11.

Members of the SGA swore in new members, heard from their president and vice president and gave officer reports. Chancellor Javier Reyes also stopped by to hold a listening session with senators.

The 1896th annual meeting began with President Tess Weisman swearing in the new senator-elects. There were 50 valid nominations and an 11 percent voter turnout of the freshman class with 605 votes.

During officer reports, University Trustee Chris Brady discussed attending the September board meeting at the Mount Ida campus. He explained his work discussing affordable housing and union issues with the Amherst Town Planning Committee. He also has been encouraging “disinvestment with problematic companies” within the UMass system.

Weisman gave an address to the Senate detailing her and Vice President Joshua Gauthier’s main goals for the year. Weisman said they hope to “enact real and tangible change, support Registered Student Organizations and agencies and make a more representative SGA.” In doing so, Weisman said they aim to go “back to basics.”

Weisman noted the disconnect between the SGA and the student body and is in the process of developing events for the student body and SGA to unite the University. Weisman wants to “cultivate strong ties with students” and have “meaningful and respectful dialogue” to create a sense of community. She also mentioned her desire to support RSOs by offering solutions to their space, storage and advising issues.

Gauthier recalled a video of people stuck on a broken elevator, unaware that all they needed to do to leave the elevator was walk down the stairs. Gauthier characterized SGA efforts by this and urged students to “get off the elevator.” He also encouraged students to ask questions, connect with senators and become immersed in the wellbeing of fellow students.

Chancellor Reyes held a listening session in the middle of the meeting. Senators were able to ask questions about the future state of the University and SGA, as well as improvement areas for the University. Multiple academic deans joined Reyes to listen to the SGA’s concerns.

Many SGA members asked Reyes about mental health resources and expanding those resources for students in the next five years. Chair of Ways and Means Committee Pranav Joshi stated that there are many resources available but there should be an expansion of them.

Colin Humphries, chair of Undergraduate Services Committee, asked about donating meal swipes. One of his initiatives, “Swipe Out Hunger,” allows for students to help donate their meal swipes and remedy collegiate hunger. Reyes said he is “so grateful to join a university with the #1 dining in the nation” but said that “it has to be for everyone.” He stated he is looking into the long run on how to help these students saying that the University can “have a vantage point that others do not.”

The SGA also asked questions regarding lecture attendance, pricing of textbooks, study materials and access to more career opportunities for all majors. Interim Vice Chancellor Shelly Perdomo-Ahmed encouraged students to continue to provide feedback through the student advisory board and provide information to Betsy Cracco, the executive director for wellbeing.

Secretary of University Policy Christine Wanjiru announced she has been meeting with agencies and planning the agency events for next semester. Additionally, she said that she is attending the Provost Search Committee and the Social Justice Committee and Police Advisory Board.

Secretary of Technology Anisha Sharda announced that the new SGA website is complete and will be released next week. Secretary of Registry Afra Rindani announced that the fall 2023 RSO application cycle had been completed, with 28 RSOs approved and 18 denied.

Chair of Social Justice & Empowerment Marco Ulysse announced his efforts in adding an emergency contraceptive vending machine to campus, as well as plans for a “Friendsgiving” for students who cannot go home for holidays.

The Senate approved a motion to add senators to the relevant committees for the year.

They also approved the addition of their new conduct advisors – Nicolas Vitale, Paige Sheehan, Dale Leone, Ava Pujado, Sabrina Ishanyan, Kenyatta Heavlow and Aishwarya Vishnubhotla – to the SGA payroll.

Attorney General Ian Harvey explained that the payroll motion was because the SGA must “receive prior affirmative vote of the senate” for any addition to SGA’s payroll.

Sydney Warren can be reached at [email protected].  Abby Joyce can be reached at [email protected].

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