Tag Archives: THIS IS UMASS

Student Government and the Responsibility of Representing 28,000


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Student Union in undated photo, (presumably late 1950s-early 60’s)

At a public university with 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, UMass is enormous. When students are distracted from their individual, everyday lives by issues such as the gang rape of a freshman student in 2012 or allegations of police brutality at the 2014 “Blarney Blowout”, they look to the administration and the SGA for answers. While these answers often aren’t obvious or easy enough to address immediately, the SGA has made sure that the student body is always represented effectively and in for what it is – a group of men and women making an investment in their future.

The Student Government Association (SGA) is aware of how large the student body is on campus; according to its website, “administrators often look first” to them to “quickly assess how students view an issue”. The SGA constantly reminds students to be vocal about what goes on around campus so they are represented correctly, although this is often difficult. According to Hayley Mandeville, Chairwoman of the SGA’s Ways and Means Committee, “everything we do has has to be signed by the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs” putting the SGA in “a tight spot.”

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An overview of the “THIS IS UMASS” forum: March 27, 2014


March 27, 2014

Although the only ones present 15 minutes before the forum were members of media, the relatively few students who showed up were able to express their “needs and wants” in a “productive session,” according to John Kennedy Vice Chancellor for University Relations.

A panel comprised of Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, Enku Gelaye, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, and John Kennedy, Vice Chancellor for University Relations answered questions posed by students (mostly part of student organizations) and others who had something to say about what went down at “Blarney Blowout”.

The SGA-enacted THIS IS UMASS campaign started with a march of over 200 on the Whitmore Administration building shortly before spring break, although the turnout for the forum was significantly less. Charlotte Kelly, Senator of Diversity and Student Engagement, blames this on the fact that some students we intimidated that it was public.

“There was a large online response, but the public setting intimidated some,” Kelly revealed in a post-event interview. “Spring break was also a huge momentum-breaker. Combined with commitments to class, at the end of the day, we’re all students.”

The panel answered questions and took suggestions from students for two hours, mostly facing down students demanding answers for the university’s response to Blarney. Aside from Blarney, the panel touched on topics ranging from the anti-bullying campaign recently implicated on campus employees to the re-acceptance of EDM concerts at the Mullins Center (the latter of which received multiple “snaps” of approval from the audience).

 

Topics discussed and important quotes:

-the difficulty that the administration faces when promoting large events without promoting or condoning the consumption of alcohol

-need to outline “lines of authority,” and to “identify the responsibilities of police, administration, and students.” -Chancellor Subbaswamy

-the administration’s hunger for student feedback

-risks associated with sending police officers into large crowds

-mistakes committed during Blarney 2014

-closing the PVTA “to prevent students and off-campus party-goers from coming to the event.” – Subbaswamy

-learning from mistakes in dealing with past large demonstrations like Blarney.

“We will work aggressively to reduce harm (on the part of the students.)” -Gelaye

-UMass and EDM concerts

“We are back in the EDM business. We weren’t trying to make a cultural statement by canceling shows in the past.” -Subbaswamy

-working with “Dance-Safe” program to reduce the risk of drug (molly) overdose

 

 

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