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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Response To Articles

I would like to take this opportunity to respond to the last two Mass Media issues, regarding my involvement with the MassPIRG Club’s trip and the 20% activities fee increase. I feel the need to write about these issues to clear up some of the miscommunication of the last two articles. I believe the articles painted an incomplete picture about these issues and my involvement with them.

The MassPIRG Club requested $1141.12 for a trip in Connecticut, to attend a hunger and homelessness conference. Once the Student Events and Organizations Committee (SEOC) approved the funding it was put up for a vote in the Student Senate. I voted in favor of the funding request for two main reasons. Firstly, the MassPIRG Club met all of the requirements set by SEOC and the Student Senate. Secondly, I believe that this event was beneficial to our campus since ten students from this University will come back from the trip with more awareness and more education about hunger and homelessness. These are among the reasons why I voted in favor of approving the requested funding. Although I signed up to go for the event, since I had never attended a conference about hunger and homelessness before and was eager to learn, my intention of going had nothing to do with my vote.

Less than a week after the Student Senate unanimously approved the funding, the Student President issued a veto against it. Although I believe the veto was made with the best intentions, I disagree with the reason behind it. The logic behind the veto was that since MassPIRG was already receiving $6 from a waivable fee from the students, part of this money should go back to our campus. The reason why I disagree with this argument is that MassPIRG and MassPIRG Club are two different organizations. Therefore, the Student Senate should treat MassPIRG Club the same way as all the other clubs even though it is affiliated with MassPIRG.

Once I learned about the veto, I drafted a petition calling for an emergency meeting to overturn it since I felt the veto was not just. I believe it creates a bad precedent when the Student Senate decides to single out a valid UMB Club due to its affiliations. The petition was signed by at least half of the Student Senate members. I then emailed all the Senators that the emergency meeting will happen. I decided to back out of the trip between the day the veto was issued and the day of the emergency meeting. Although the trip was for a good cause, I decided to pull out since I did not want anybody to think that the trip was the primary reason why I called for the emergency meeting. Due to the fact that I was no longer participating in the trip, I didn’t see any problem with me moving to override the veto and voting in favor of that motion. There was no longer any conflict of interest.

I would also like to give my side regarding the 20% activities fee increase. Last year there was a $44,000 shortfall in the Student Activities Trust Fund (SATF). The Student Senate then considered a 20% activities fee increase to make up for the short fall. The 20% activities fee increase did not pass. The responsibility of getting alternative funds to support student activities fell on this year’s Budget and Finance Committee, to which I am Chair. During the summer the B&F Committee took this project enthusiastically. We were hoping to gather enough information and ideas to help us avoid a 20% activities fee increase. The plan and the process changed when the Board of Trustees approved a $750 fee increase that will be implemented beginning in the Spring Semester. I believe that a 20% activities fee increase in addition to the $750 fee increase would be unfair to the students. I spoke numerous times with Trustee Bukhari regarding the course of action we should take. We agreed that the best option was for Trustee Bukhari to work with the administration in order to get the needed $12 to our SATF. The 20% activities fee increase will not happen this year, since Trustee Bukhari succeeded in obtaining the $12 we needed from the $750 fee increase. This is what I reported to the Mass Media, two weeks ago, to address the issue of the false report regarding Trustee Bukhari’s frustration with my slow pace. Mass Media promised to fix the problem. However, last week’s report regarding this issue was again false. Contrary to what was written in last week’s paper, I never made the claim that I worked with Trustee Bukhari, “to have $12 out of the $750 fee increase diverted to the Student Activities Trust Fund.” Trustee Bukhari did all the work to get the needed $12 and I would never want to take credit for something I did not do.

Reuben UrmenetaStudent Senator