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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

3-4-24 PDF
March 4, 2024
2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

You Gotta Fight For Your Right

It’s not just about space changes, bureaucracy, or even just about events cancelled at the last minute. It’s about the underlying issues of respect, communication, and accountability in the relationship between the administration and the students, particularly the administration of Student Affairs and the students active in student organizations.

Student leaders (such as center coordinators, club presidents, and student senators) commit their time and energy to creating events and programs to engage the greater student body of UMass Boston, but are frustrated by the lack of support they receive from administrators. Brenda Tracchia, a student senator and club president, and Jessica Mesick, coordinator of the Student Wellness Center, explained that inadequate training of student leaders is part of the problem. “When I was hired as a coordinator,” Mesick said, “I was handed boxes full of stuff and told to go set up my center. That was my training.”

Tracchia pointed out that student leaders can’t be expected to do everything from paperwork and planning campus events to community outreach and providing information resources without being trained on how to do the job. “[The administration] gives us all these expectations,” she said, “but they’re not allowing us to meet those because they don’t give us the proper training or tools … You’re built to fail.”

Communication from the administration to student leaders is another big problem. Tracchia was frustrated by the way administrators require students to go through every channel for approvals but don’t trickle the same thoroughness of communication back down to the students. “We’re having to go up the chain, but they don’t have to go down the chain. It really creates a sense of complete lack of communication where we’re trying to hit so many ends, and when we get to the end they just shrug.” She described a situation last semester in which she submitted flyers to be printed for a group event, only to have the request get lost between the various channels of bureaucracy. The event went on without any materials.

Patrick Day, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, acknowledges these frustrations with training and communication. “I think training has been one of the biggest holes in the student experience that I’ve seen,” he said. “One of the things I’ve seen about the student experience here has nothing to do with how hard students work or how talented they are. What it has to do with, and what we’ve been trying to do at least in the time I’ve been here, is creating infrastructure. And part of infrastructure is training.” Day described the current structure as one in which four people are trying to advise 70 groups and simply don’t have the time to work closely with any organization. He plans on implementing a “university wide advising system” that will provide each student group with a trained faculty advisor that will work to clarify objectives and goals based on the needs of the individual group. Plans are also in place to provide student leaders with training specific to the type of leadership role they assume, since the job of a club president is different than the job of a student senator. Day believes that such training can empower students to move forward with their goals, but stressed that the proper framework needs to be in place to make that happen.

With improved training should come improved communication and expectations, which Day expects will also mean new challenges. “With more communication will also come increased responsibility and accountability for our entire campus community,” he said. “And that’s good, but it’s challenging, and it’s something we will all find challenging. So we also have to be prepared for what comes along with that.” Day explained that bringing about change takes time and “unsexy” work, but he said “I think that when that work is done, and even while that work is going on, you’ll begin to see appreciable changes in what it feels like to be part of a student group on the campus.”

Students will be making their own statement about “what it feels like” to be a part of the UMass Boston campus Tuesday April 1st (it’s no joke!) in a rally for students’ rights and re-empowerment. Concerned students will address increased student fees, handicap accessibility, censored events, student spaces, and other issues that affect the U Mass Boston student body. The event will be held at 11am outside the Campus Center.