Staff Writer: Maya Arruda
Leadership Forum, the follow-up event to the titular Shake the Ship, was held on March 16th in the library.
Hosted by the Student Government Association, this event served to answer unfinished questions from its predecessor and to ask additional questions of the SGA leadership.
For those unaware of what the SGA is or its purpose on campus, they act as an intermediary between administration and the student body.
They are responsible for managing all clubs on campus, arranging student events like Shake the Ship, and advocating for the improvement of student life to campus administration and state government officials.
Unlike the Shake the Ship event, the Leadership Forum did not have any UMass Dartmouth administrators as panelists.
Out of the administrative panelists from Shake the Ship, only Vice Chancellor Kimberly Scott attended as the SGA’s faculty advisor.
SGA panelists included SGA President Efe Oboh-Idahosa, Vice President Daniella Niles, Treasurer Jendayi Williams, Recording Secretary Widline Thomas, and Student Trustee Maxwell White. SGA Corresponding Secretary Doreen Darko acted as moderator for the event.
The Leadership Forum event can be divided into two parts based on content: questions unaddressed or unanswered from Shake the Ship and questions specifically for the SGA.
Shake the Ship involved a plethora of questions towards administrators about everything from parking policy, to student safety following the Michigan campus shootings, to inappropriate and even racist behavior from professors.
More information on Shake the Ship can be found in our article here for those interested.
While administrators did their best to address student concerns, some questions were not fully answered and/or required follow-up. The Leadership Forum provided some closure and updates regarding mostly facilities-involved questions.
The UMass Dartmouth campus will be gaining 16 to 18 electric car charging stations to adapt to the current automobile landscape. With the increase in popularity of electric-only vehicles, more charging stations will definitely be required to keep up with demand from both students and faculty.
The other questions unanswered by Shake the Ship pertained almost exclusively to residential students.
One student inquired about how freshman dorm students would unlock doors to their rooms during a power outage when the locks in those dorms are opened by student IDs rather than physical keys.
The answer given would be to ask the on-site representative for the freshman dorm buildings.
There will be a new facilities work order system for maintenance and repairs by the fall semester.
Keep in mind, however, that facilities’ trade union staff are not scheduled to work weekends, though there will be an on-call staff for emergencies.
Hopefully, the new work order system will allow for increased efficiency during the weekdays, so students do not have to work around non-emergency malfunctions over the weekend.
The Leadership Forum did not address or provide an update on other lingering questions from Shake the Ship involving the allegations against faculty members or environmental concerns.
However, in all fairness, these topics are not within the SGA’s purview or authority to handle. It should be solely the responsibility of the administration to properly manage and update students on these important unanswered questions, not the SGA.
Perhaps a follow-up forum with the administration to provide increased transparency between the student body and administration should be implemented in upcoming years to address, specifically, these more serious topics such as faculty misconduct.
Especially considering how student tuition pays for faculty salaries.
Student Government Answers
While there were quite a few questions addressed solely to the SGA, these questions can be classified by topic into three broad categories: the inner workings of the SGA, board of trustees, and the (ever-dreaded) budget. The last of which is mainly relevant to club leaders and e-board members who have to manage club activities on a budget handed out by the school.
Student Government Affairs
SGA elections will be taking place in March and April 2023 to find successors for the graduating SGA e-board members.
The candidate form to be on the ballot will be open to filling out March 27th-31st, with elections occurring from April 3rd to April 19th.
Mandatory information sessions will occur from March 20th-27th for any aspiring senatorial candidates with current student senators present.
Additionally, more student senator positions will be up for grabs after the recently passed amendment to the SGA constitution that created additional senate seats to represent different student groups.
Two seats for commuters, one seat for transfer students, one for the honors college, one seat for first-generation students, one for student veterans, and one seat for international students have been added.
It is more than likely some of these newly opened seats will appear on the ballot.
As part of its role in student advocacy, the SGA has sent out a letter to the Massachusetts state governor requesting more funds for public schools – including state-run higher education facilities.
This letter has asked for an additional $2 billion to be allocated to supporting public schools, ideally lowering tuition for public colleges.
The Torch will be releasing an article on the letter in the near future.
Commissioner Otega is in support of this letter and has agreed to meet with SGA President Oboh-Idahosa in an upcoming meeting.
Moreover, SGA will be voting on a hunger-free campus initiative. Once this resolution is passed, it must be approved by Vice Chancellor Scott and later Chancellor Fuller.
More information on the SGA can be found on their website, including previous election results and current board members, and on Corsair Engage.
For clubs needing to submit changes to their constitution, the last day for submission is April 1st.
Non-SGA club elections will be held in accordance with their respective club’s constitution and must occur by April 3rd-7th.
Exceptions can be made by email with the SGA President at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student Government Adjacent
The Board of Trustees is not a part of the SGA or a subsidiary, but rather serves as the final overseeing body for all important campus-wide decisions.
Maxwell White, one of the current student trustees serving on the board, used to be part of SGA and acts as a representative of student interest while working closely with SGA. (Hence the title of this section.)
The Board of Trustees has 22 total members, with 5 elected per year. The Board meets quarterly and is responsible for deciding matters of tuition, tenure, capital budget, and academic programs offered by the university.
Every meeting is an open session by Massachusetts state law, so students are free to attend.
It should be stated that the Board of Trustees rules over all five campuses within the UMass system, not just UMass Dartmouth.
It is the Board of Trustees that are the final vote of approval for any changes in the SGA constitution, including the SGA’s senate seat bill.
Amendments to the constitution must be approved by the Chancellor before the Board of Trustees can vote for or against approval.
According to Student Trustee Maxwell White, there were two drafts of this bill, the first draft being rejected by Chancellor Mark Fuller over the definition of a first-generation student.
Within the Board of Trustees is a Budget Review Committee that recommends allocations of funds to the Chancellor within the budget, which sets priorities for campus spending. There are both student and administrative representatives on this committee.
Unfortunately, no advocates for CVPA students seem to have been on this committee for years, considering the suboptimal state of technology and software for the building.
Student Government Accounting
With the SGA account balance being low, according to President Oboh-Idahosa, and undergraduate club budgets being raised from $200 to $500 due to inflation, it comes as no surprise that new budgeting policies for clubs will be implemented for the upcoming school year.
The SGA is enforcing a new policy for club budget approval.
This new policy will create a new system linking SFP applications with budget hearings. If a club does not achieve both, it will not receive funding for the upcoming year.
All budgeting is decided a year in advance. Budgets for the Fall 2023-Spring 2024 school year will be finalized by the SGA this semester.
To be recognized as a club and thus be eligible for SGA funding, clubs must first pre-register with the SAIL office. SAIL will be sending out an email to club e-board members in the immediate future.
It is possible to schedule a budget hearing meeting before pre-registering with SAIL by email if the club is completely committed to pre-registering at the earliest opportunity.
Failure to pre-register after a budget hearing will result in the funds being forfeited.
All clubs must meet with the SGA Finance Committee in a budget hearing, or they will not be receiving a budget for the upcoming year.
Attendance at the finance forum is also mandatory for funding.
There will be no leeway.
The last date for accepting budget proposals will be around April 17th to April 24th, and budgets will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
Forms for SFP applications and budget hearing applications can be found here.
SFP forms will stop being accepted on April 15th.
Another new policy being introduced is the SFP scale, which is a questionnaire attached to the SFP application that tests a club’s likelihood of receiving SFP status.
This SFP scale is not currently finalized, though it will make an appearance in upcoming years.
Budget applications are currently open.
Clubs must fill out the application forms completely before submitting them to MyOrgs before contacting the SGA Treasurer via email.
Clubs can contact the current treasurer at email@example.com.