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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

I Was Embarrassed

Our cover story this week gives an extremely polite account of the UMass Boston Student Senate’s trip to UMass Amherst to meet with their “peers.”

I want to say one thing first before I continue with this column: I would consider many of the UMB Student Senators my friends, and I wish none of them any ill will, but what I am about to write must be written.

I had never been to UMass Amherst so I accompanied our news reporter and the senate to Amherst, hoping to get a few nice photos to go with the article. Scheduled weeks in advance, I was told we would be leaving in a university van at 1:30pm. Early on the day of the trip a Student Senator forwarded me an email from an Amherst student outlining the agenda of the meeting which was, as we had known all along, scheduled to start at 4:00pm.

At 1:15pm I arrived at the UMB Student Senate office, and apparently there were two vehicles leaving, the first at 1:30pm and the second at 2:30pm. I wanted to go in the first, hoping there would be a little daylight left which would allow me time to take photos.

But the Student Senator who was to drive the van was not there and I was informed that both vehicles would be leaving at 2:30. Now, as I type this into the computer, it sounds fairly well organized: it wasn’t. The scene in the senate office was rather chaotic-chairs were scattered all around the office and people were trying to find places to wait while senators wandered to and fro, shouting questions and orders-much sound and fury resulting in nothing.

I went to the Student Life Office and asked the Director of Student Life how long it would take to get to Amherst, and was told at least two hours. I quickly realized we would be late, and considered not attending the conference, but duty and curiosity weighed on me and I felt obligated-there was still a possibility that I may obtain an impressive photo…

After our driver arrived, and we fueled up at the loading dock, and obtained a transponder, we managed to leave the UMB campus by 3:00pm, only to be slowed by Boston traffic. As we drove west along the Mass Pike, though, I had the opportunity to watch a lovely sunset.

When we finally arrived at the Amherst campus we drove around avoiding the Student Union building and making phone calls, while one senator, who had been there before, pleaded with the driver or the senate president to pay attention to his directions: again, sound and fury resulting in nothing.

So, we finally arrived at the Cape Cod room, around 5:30pm, where there were senators and trustees from Amherst and Lowell seated around a group of tables having a discussion. While we, like the hungry mob we were, descended on the food.

And then the meeting itself continued; abbreviated and with the planned agenda discarded.

Our representatives added little substance. The quotes in the lead article don’t do justice to the bombastic pontificating that emanated from our Student Senate President. After the first couple of times that the UMB Senate President gave his little speeches, I actually saw students from Amherst and Lowell roll their eyes or hang their heads. No one, it seemed, could speak without having to suffer an arrogant interruption.

Also, while the representatives from Amherst and Lowell actually tried to discuss issues and decide on plans, our president seemed more inclined to do a little PR work on behalf of UMass President William Bulger, CPCS and himself.

From the meeting I was impressed with the intelligence and lucidity of thought of the UMass Lowell and UMass Amherst Senate Presidents, assorted senators and especially with the UMass Lowell Student Trustee.

It is said that first impressions are rather important, and the UMB contingent surely made a strong first impression-I cannot express how much I was embarrassed.

We were in a fine meeting space, with intelligent and efficient student representatives from Amherst and Lowell, while the UMass Boston representatives wandered in late, gorged themselves on free food, added little to the discussion, and our president became argumentative and appeared to be an employee of the state administration.

I cannot express how much I was embarrassed to be a UMass Boston student.

Michael Rhys can be reached at [email protected]