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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

USG Nominees on the Issues

Wright (left) and Uter (right) during the March 22 presidential debate
Wright (left) and Uter (right) during the March 22 presidential debate

The Mass Media recorded the USG debate on March 22, but those files were lost due to technical difficulties. In an attempt to rectify this error, both candidates were contacted and key points were re-communicated to The Mass Media. We’d like to thank both candidates for their patience and cooperation in enabling us to achieve our goal. The following are the responses from the candidates, verbatim.

How would you improve handicap accessibility on campus?

Wright: There are a lot of issues regarding disabilities on our campus, both physical and learning, that we can address immediately.  One of these is the heavy doors that literally provide a barrier between some of our students and their education.  The first project is working with Carol DeSouza, UMass Boston’s ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliance officer, and other university departments to address the immediate need of push-button options on more doors around campus and continuing the fight to make sure we, as a university, are going above and beyond the state regulated minimum for our students. 

The first step my administration will take is to appoint a highly involved student who relates intimately with these needs and to appoint this student to my executive cabinet so I can work daily to address these needs with first-hand knowledge of what they are.

Uter: As a world-class institution, we have an obligation to meet the needs of our students and faculty. One of these needs that we have not met is handicap accessibility. As such, we need to install more handicap door activation switches across our campus. Furthermore, with our University going to a one-card scan entry system, we wish to work with our student body, Public Safety, and the Office of Campus Master Planning to ensure that handicap accessibility remains a top priority.

How do you plan to increase Student Trustee representation on the Board of Trustees?

Wright: There are many long-term goals like stopping the fee increases at UMB and ensuring that our education and the education of all future UMass Boston students is affordable.  These goals have a much more realistic chance of becoming a reality if we strengthen our voting position on the Board of Trustees. 

Currently there are five student trustees from all five UMass campuses and a total of 19 voting Board members.  Only two of those are students because they rotate the vote every year between the different campuses.  This is an unacceptable representation of our students’ voices and must be immediately rectified.  Our administration is on board with presenting a proposal to the UMass President Robert Caret about changing the vote to include all five student trustees.  From there we will present this strong and overdue solution to the Board and foster enough student voice and activism from all five campus to guarantee this change occurs.

Uter: In order to increase Student Trustee representation on the Board of Trustees, we will work with the student body, student government, student trustees, and Chancellor’s Office of each UMass System to draft a petition and proposal that would be presented to both the Board of Trustees and State Legislature. Furthermore, we will work to inform the student body as to why we should increase representation on the Board, and the benefits of doing so. Without student support and involvement, we cannot build the momentum necessary to ensure that all of the Student Trustees are able to vote.

What would you do to relieve some of the burden on students to come up with their own funds for events?

Wright: Because Kayla and I agree that raising mandatory student fees at UMB is out of the question, we understand the exact budget numbers we will be working with for next year to provide funds to RSOs (Registered Student Organizations) and Centers on campus for their events. 

This year SEOC (Student Events and Organizations Council) was given just over $78,000 to operate on initially and then allocated an addition $33,000 to give even more support to these events.  Budget and Finance operated within an initial $30,000 budget to provide financial support to off campus initiatives.  A mandatory piece of requesting funds from either of these entities is individual fundraising by RSOs and Centers. 

While we will continue to do everything in our power to alleviate the financial burden these events incur, like securing outside donor support that directly influences the SATF (Student Activities Trust Fund), I believe it is a great learning experience, which is what college is all about, for every RSO and Center to take a piece of ownership in procuring funds for their events.  At no point in the working world will we ever have anything simply given to us on a silver platter.  Learning to fund-raise and be fiscally responsible when planning events and maintaining budgets for these events are skills that every student should invest in and be successful at for any event they would like to hold.  Owning a piece of anything we, as students, personally endeavor dramatically increases our personal investment in the project as well as our overall satisfaction level at the project’s end.

Uter: To relieve the burden of student organizations coming up with their own funds for events, we will work with student groups and the SEOC to continue to increase collaborative work among student groups and university departments. By doing this, the cost of an event is divided among many groups, and allows events to be broadcasted throughout more channels, thus increasing the turnout rate.

Furthermore, we will seek to increase the budget given to Student Activities, while also working with student groups, the student body, university departments, all other UMass System Student Government Associations, and student trustees to petition the state legislature to invest more into public higher education.