By Sebastian Moronta, SGA Correspondent
This week, the SGA reviewed two new student organizations, the UMass Dartmouth Society of Healthcare Engineering and the UMassD Disc Golf Club, for a reviewal of approval next week.
Concerns about ceiling damage in Willow and Ivy were raised and forwarded to infrastructure to be addressed. The Public Relations Committee is looking for feedback on how to improve Shake the Ship and will work to implement notes for future events.
A vote to have the SGA’s account balance read at the beginning and end of meetings triggered a discussion debriefing fiscal responsibility in the body, and senators sparred over rising student org expenses with a limited budget.
As one senator noted, a majority of funds for student events and trips are awarded in the fall, while most events actually occur in the spring, leading some reps to briefly float the idea of splitting the budget up by semester, to ensure neither gets shafted.
While that idea was eventually shot down, the initial vote passed.
This week’s Senator Spotlight features Silavong Phimmasone.
SGA’s Senator Phimmasone is a junior Business Management major, who first served as a representative for the class of 2019 before transitioning into a role as a rep for the Charlton College of Business.
He is a MS3 Cadet in the US Army ROTC program, and the Torch sat down with him to talk about the issues he’s most focused on addressing while in the SGA, Veteran’s Affairs.
It’s estimated that there are around three-hundred individuals on campus affiliated in some way with the Military, and that figure includes faculty. Finding out precisely how many there are is difficult, as Silavong explained, because there is no centralized Veteran’s Affairs department, and instead the responsibilities are divided amongst other departments.
Student Affairs is working hard to identify them all to ensure they receive the proper benefits, but system limitations slow the process.
At present, Silavong is working to address the recent restructuring of the University’s tuition and fees, and how they limit Veteran’s ability to receive assistance in paying for their education under the GI Bill.
The GI Bill grants veterans and their children free tuition to state schools. Tuition and fees at UMassD total about $6500, but only $708 are classified as Tuition, meaning veteran’s only save about ten percent for their service.
He stressed that this issue is not limited to UMass Dartmouth, but it is a UMass system issue, which makes it significantly more difficult to address as a senator.
He has pushed the SGA President and Student Trustee on the issue and relies heavily on them to give this topic a spotlight with the Chancellor and higher levels of administration.
While influencing tuition structure is largely out of a senator’s control, he has been working to improve smaller aspects of veteran’s life on campus that he can directly address.
He hopes to improve conditions of the veteran’s workspaces on campus, namely an office in campus center, and the veteran’s reading room in the library.
Silavong assured that while the university cares deeply about the veterans on campus and is working to provide them with the tools they need to succeed, there is much work to be done, and he will keep his nose on the grindstone.