By Staff Writer Kylie Cooper.
Student Government Association (SGA) will be hosting Shake the Ship on Wednesday, April 10 to let students directly voice their campus questions and concerns to heads of administration.
The open forum will be held in the Library Living Room from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Key topics that will be discussed include parking, diversity, and academics. All students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to attend.
“We try to create a safe space where the panelists know and the students know that this is just to have a calm conversation,” said Jasmine Kelly ‘20, SGA Corresponding Secretary and head organizer of Shake the Ship. “It’s not a place where you should feel like your voices don’t want to be heard.”
The panelists (full list provided below) were chosen based on questions and concerns that students submitted at the end of March through an online form. Through those questions, panelists have been able to formulate answers and will share their conclusions during the first half hour of the event.
The remaining hour and a half will be opened up to the audience for further questions and feedback.
Notable topics from last semester’s Shake the Ship continue to be major concerns students want administrators to address.
“I think there’s going to be quite a few concerns about parking again,” said Tyler Varda ‘19, SGA President.
Daniel Schiek, a representative for the Class of 2021, was approached by a student who voiced that the signage listing which permit is needed to park in each lot is not effective. Because of construction, who may park in each lot has changed and, in the student’s case, the “C” square for commuter permits was too small even before it was removed.
“[The removal] would’ve been in-line with what is allowed, but [the student] felt that it isn’t clear enough that this change has happened and you can no longer park there,” said Schiek.
Another prominent topic this semester will be diversity—specifically, within the Counseling Center. Currently, the staff is predominantly white and does not accurately reflect the student body.
“If you’re going to go to the Counseling Center, you want someone who not only looks like you, but has been through similar experiences as you,” said Varda.
“I think [diversity is] definitely one of the more important things that we’re facing right now,” said Alex Fossel ‘21, SGA Parliamentarian and a senator for the College of Arts and Sciences.
As for academic-related feedback from the online form, students hope for more individualized study spaces and tuition waivers for those in certain financial situations. Paige Zora ‘21, English major with a minor in drawing, thinks the university website needs more organization and that COIN is, at times, not specific enough with course descriptions.
Further issues to be discussed during Shake the Ship are dining, accessibility, and infrastructure. Since Jack and Olive has been implemented, on-the-go food prices have risen significantly. Concerns have been expressed about assistance from the Center for Access and Success and ADA compliance. The general maintenance of campus, like fixing cracks in the roads, and the upkeep of the Dells are also set to be addressed.
No matter what major, year of graduation, or level of involvement on campus, each student is encouraged to attend Shake the Ship. Staying for the entire two-hour event is not necessary; students may attend for as much time as they desire.
“This is our school, so we need to make sure that our voices are heard,” said Isabelle Joseph ‘21, a senator for the College of Arts and Sciences.
Kelly, also serving as event moderator, added that the panelists—who already “take the time out of their day and talk to the students”—will find a way to later contact students whose questions they cannot answer on-the-spot.
“No idea is ever shut down at Shake the Ship,” Kelly said. For all information regarding SGA, go to http://www.umassdsga.com.
Panelists: Mohammad Karim, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor; Angela Callahan, Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Talent & Diversity; Emil Fioravanti, Director/Chief of Police; David Gingerella, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance; Lucinda Poudrier-Aaronson, Associate Dean of Student/Director of Housing, Residential Education, and Dining; and Gregory Walters, Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Master Planning & Facilities Management.