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

A roundtable discussion: Updates from this week’s SGA meeting

SGA discussed quality-of-life improvements and upcoming motions at their 1906th weekly Senate meeting
Dylan Nguyễn

The Student Government Association (SGA) held its weekly Senate meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 21 in the Student Union. While it was the Senate’s 1906th regular meeting, it was the first meeting to feature the Cape Cod Lounge’s new circular tables, dividing the room into seven tables of eight Senators.

The meeting began with a short announcement by Sabrina Schimscheimer, the campus organizer for the Massachusetts Student Public Interest Group (MASSPIRG).

Schimscheimer informed the Senate about MASSPIRG’s collaboration with Oceana, a non-profit organization dedicated to cleaner, plastic-free oceans across the planet.

With the collaboration, MASSPIRG will host a free screening of Emmy Award-winning director Rory Fielding’s documentary, “We’re All Plastic People Now” in Herter Hall on Thursday, Feb. 22.

Following Schimscheimer’s announcement, Speaker Jackie Fallon took roll call and encouraged Senate members to be present in the moment, setting in place a new, informal rule on technology use during meetings to encourage attentive listening.

Vice President Gauthier, serving as acting president, echoed Fallon’s remarks on technology use during his Officer Report, joking that a technology-free room of Senators will ensure a “rootin,’ tootin’ evening.”

In addition, Gauthier discussed the planned transition of UMass’ 42 club sports to leadership under Recreation and Wellbeing (RecWell), which will help each club sport “get more advisors, support and risk management resources so that they can work better and faster as clubs.”

During his Cabinet report, Attorney General Harvey discussed a future program that could see Harvest Market accepting Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) for grocery items, a major benefit for students struggling with food insecurity.

Harvest Market is one of few locations on campus that is eligible for EBT benefits, as in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, EBT cannot be used on “prepared meals sold hot and ready to eat.”

If accepted, Harvest Market would not lose any money, as with EBT, the vendor still receives the same revenue for each purchase made, but the money would come from the Federal Government, rather than the consumer, according to Harvey.

Following Officer and Cabinet reports, Attorney General Harvey and Vice President Gauthier presented the Executive Agenda during the Committee of the Whole.

The Executive Agenda is a comprehensive planner that maps out upcoming major motions. This agenda was created in hopes of encouraging senators to look forward to attending weekly SGA meetings. The planner indicated that bigger motions will be more frequent and enacted sooner.

“To give you a little bit of a taste of how powerful this tool is, we made the chalk motion just last week, and we sent an email to [Executive Director of Recreation and Wellbeing Ruben] Sança saying that we would do this chalk motion because we had students’ support behind it, and in one day we got the chalk motion that the chalk policy changed,” Gauthier said.

With the Executive Agenda, AG Harvey hopes more major motions will be passed in the future, joking amongst his fellow Senate members about the agenda’s benefits.

“Be totally honest here guys — raise your hand if you think sometimes SGA Senate meetings are boring,” joked Harvey to a sea of laughter and raised hands. “I really do believe that one of the big reasons behind this is because a lot of SGA leadership — we’re not really doing too much. Outside of SGA meetings, we definitely do a lot of meetings and we have our advocacy, but there hasn’t been a lot of policy motions that had been brought before Senate.”

Following the Committee of the Whole, final roll call was taken and the meeting was adjourned at 8:25 p.m. after one hour and 52 minutes.

Nathan Legare can be reached at [email protected].

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