Student Government Association Vital in Campus Transformation
By Julia Gavin
Many partners have played a role in the ongoing transformation taking place on campus, but the largest group – in number and importance to the big picture – consists of students. It can be difficult to organize the varying interests of a growing body, so the Student Government Association (SGA) works to represent its peers.
From communicating student ideas directly to campus leadership to launching new services for the University community, the SGA brings dozens of students, faculty and staff together in improve the UMass Lowell experience for everyone. SGA President Brian Dano
, a senior marketing and finance major from Merrimack, N.H., enjoys working with students and administrators to move the school forward.
“We develop ideas or hear them from other students and then make them happen,” says Dano. “Here, the SGA actually gets to make an impact. At other schools, SGAs really have to push hard to be heard. But we have monthly meetings with Chancellor Meehan where we ask about ideas, hammer out the details and then get to work together.”
In the past few semesters, the SGA has focused on three main projects:
- The new hydration station in the recreation center, which quickly fills reusable water bottles, has saved more than 13,000 water bottles from being used and another in the Costello athletic center has also helped the campus go green.
- The SGA worked directly with Provost Abdelal to complete and approve a new student bill of rights.
- Students also worked with administrators to add the Good Samaritan Policy to the new student code of conduct, which will protect students from punishment if they alert a staff member that a friend needs help with an alcohol issue.
This semester, the SGA is working to improve wireless coverage on campus, looking into a GPS tracking and reporting application that will update students on a shuttle’s route, and a potential application for Blackboard software, which would make online work even more accessible for students.
In addition to representing the student body at events, running open forums with the Chancellor and coordinating student input, Dano also appoints members to campus advisory commissions and sits on several himself. One commission, the Healthy Workplace Group, is crafting a new campus smoking policy that would establish designated smoking areas, which Dano is hoping to pass before he graduates in May.
Student Involvement Increases as SGA Impact Felt on Campus
Since joining the SGA, Dano has seen more students getting involved with the organization including freshmen and sophomores. While the group often had to recruit students to fill positions several years ago, now there are very few vacancies and students are already submitting applications to get involved.
“Students are joining and running for spots because they see us proposing ideas and making them happen,” says Dano. “For example, the biggest issue we used to hear about was campus dining. We were a part of the recent renovations at University Dining Commons
in Fox Hall, and I haven’t heard a single complaint this year. They want to be a part of the transformation.”