UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Student Senate Wants to Enact Major Change at UMass Boston

Senators Ali Al-Sabbagh and Yianno Pantazelos attend a recent meeting of the Undergraduate Student Senate. Photo by John Kane

The Undergraduate Student Senate is going through a change at UMass Boston. Under the direction of Juana Matias, the newly elected President, Senators are moving away from the old schools of thought that advocate maintaining the status quo of non-transparency and special interest. The Student Senate has and will continue to take charge on the issues that the university’s students face.

One of the major plans on the agenda for the upcoming year is creating transparency about where tuition exactly goes and how much of each student’s tuition goes to each department.

“We want to know where all student fees […] are going,” Matias said. “How are they being distributed amongst the university? Am I giving IT 45,000 dollars a year for ink and paper and am I getting that back in return? There is an allocation of student [funds] that is so large that no one has ever told students where this money goes. No one has told you, 60 of your dollars goes to IT and yet you only get 200 pages of printing.'”

Creating a 24-hour study area for students in the Campus Center has also been a major plan of the president for a long time.

“You see students scattered throughout the school having no place to really to be able to study,” Matias said. “They are being kicked out of conference rooms. We have lost about 20 percent of space in the Campus Center. We are trying to get data that no other Senate has ever [looked for].

“Our main goal is to truly represent 9,000 students as best as possible, which is what we take our oath to do, but [it] takes time to try to create change.”

Matias has many good things to say about the Senate that she heads, and the precedents that they will surely leave behind. For the first time in UMass Boston history, the Senate created a budget for clubs in only a week, distributing $200,000 “as equitably as possible” to about 65 clubs and centers.

Whatever strides they may be making however, the darker aspects of previous Senates creep into this Senate as well. When asked if Senators also being officers of various clubs creates a special interest and possibly a question of corruption in the Senate she responded,

“Coordinators who are paid by the SATF fund should not be part of the Senate. That is something that should be put into the by-laws. I don’t feel like you can serve the interests of 9,000 students when you yourself are being paid by an SATF fund. Club presidents [should not] be part of the Senate. I am going to make sure those changes are made.”

Just recently the Student Senate approved a new position. They passed a resolution requesting a secretary be hired to handle paper work and important documents. The cost to the students: $7,000. This is the first Student Senate in the University’s history to order this perk. One may hope that Matias continues to put her promises into action as the year progresses or the student body may be out that $7,000.