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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Makeshift Student Senate

“On the surface, [UMass Boston Student Senate] seems a wise choice.”1 The SGA is conducting business and the constituents are content with the procedures. On February 26, 2003, the SGA filled the ramshackle and much needed undergraduate student senate positions. This comes as no surprise because some of the committees have dwindled to less than two senators per committee which does not constitute quorum in many cases; thus business cannot be conducted.

Meanwhile, there are a handful of constituents at UMB who are raising their voices in opposition to the undergraduate Student Government Association (SGA) for their failure to uphold the constitution and bylaws. These documents were written for a purpose and were not intended to be set aside, trampled upon, and/or used by certain senator’s for their convenience. Instead these documents are to guide the undergraduate SGA should it deviate from the constitution, bylaws, or the scope of business. It is the senates’ responsibility and privileged right to raise a point of privilege or a point of order during senate business if any senator or constituent breaches the constitution, bylaws, policies, or procedures of UMass Boston.

“This new [constituent-senate] relations; however, will not run deep.”2 The current student senate leadership continues to violate the bylaws and constitution which house the policies and procedures for the undergraduate SGA. A good example of this misguided leadership is the Student Events & Organization Committee (SEOC) meeting held yesterday, March 6, 2003. Vice President Tuan Pham, who chaired the meeting, stated, “The [new] senators are not familiar with parliamentary procedure … I will attempt to explain to them how this works” and it appears the “new” senators are not familiar and/or are ignorant with the UMass Boston SGA bylaws and constitution. This is not the “new” senator’s fault. It is the “current”, prior to February 26, 2003, senator’s fault.

The only thing separating a “new” student senator from a non-senator student; such as you, are:1. The “new” student senator filled out an application for senate membership.2. The current senate membership liked the “new” senator and voted for him/her.

That is it. Did you know, in our Bylaws, (Chapter Four, Membership; Section A, Seating of Members; subsection 1 & 2, a – c), it clearly states that “ALL (caps added for emphasis) senators, [whether “new” or current], must attend a mandatory orientation and pass the SGA Proficiency exam.” This is not new to us. “The purpose of the orientation is to familiarize incoming Senators with the policies and procedures of the SGA so all will be knowledgeable. The SGA Proficiency Exam will encompass a more indepth (sic) knowledge of the SGA policies and proceedings to further prepare Senators for their leadership roles.”3

The Student Senate Advisor, the current members or representatives of the Steering Committee, and/or the Elections Task Force Ad-Hoc (sic) Committee breached the Chapter Four Bylaws: Membership, Section A, Seating of Members, subsection 2. “2. All new members, prior to being seated, shall be required to attend a mandatory orientation to be overseen by [aforesaid members].” Again, the senate has manipulated the bylaws to their convenience.

Another example, VP Tuan Pham breached the Chapter Five Bylaw: Procedures of Meetings and Records, Section A: Agendas, subsection 2 and 4, a and b. “2. The agendas of regularly scheduled SGA meetings, including all appropriate documents and minutes shall be prepared and posted by the appropriate committees three calendar class days in advance of the next regular meeting.” “4. The format of agendas when published shall be: a) Title, including name of body. b) Date, time and location of meeting.” The constituents did not receive the SEOC agenda until five minutes prior to the meeting.

Perhaps the “new” senators will rise to the occasion and right the wrongs that the old and current administration (senate) continues to breach the Bylaws and Constitution of the SGA at UMass Boston. Perhaps they will represent our true leadership and restore our confidence with the undergraduate SGA.

Cited Work

1. Victor, David G., and Nadejda M. Victor. “Axis of Oil?” Foreign Affairs 82.2 (2003): 48-49.2. Ibid. 49. 3. Bylaws of the Student Senate of the University of Massachusetts Boston, Student Senate Handbook “Chapter Four, Membership; Section A, Seating of Members, subsection b” April 26, 2000