BY MERYL PHAIR ’21
This week’s senate meeting took place in the Blanchard Great Room on Tuesday, Nov. 13. Senate opened with a short debrief about the town hall meeting held on Nov. 6 before moving into action plan presentations from each of eight working groups.
“[These presentations are] mainly to ensure that if two working groups come up with a similar action plan we don’t have a duplication of effort so we can effectively use our resources to achieve the most that we can,” said Salina Hussain ’21, chair of Senate. Each presentation highlighted goals and potential collaborative opportunities for the rest of the 2018-19 academic year.
Senate’s eight working groups focus on academic outreach, environmental sustainability, campus safety, dining services, community resources, financial stability, campus accessibility and social media and outreach.
The academic outreach group emphasized the importance of community and communication between students, faculty and the broader academic community. “The broad goals [of the group] have to do with making sure that all students aren’t kept in the dark about how to navigate their academic departments successfully and that includes connecting students within majors,” said Ranjani Ramanathan ’20. “They want to concentrate on education, advocacy and familiarizing students with available resources. They will be working with the administration, department chairs, student liaisons, the social media department of student life and other senate working groups.”
Environmental sustainability initiatives have three key components: to inform, to motivate and to implement. This working group plans to gather more information on current understandings of sustainability on campus so they can adequately inform the student body. They plan to conduct a waste profile interview for the Dining Commons as well as work with initiatives from the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN).
The group focused on campus safety is committed to creating a safe campus for students and building a close-knit and reliable community. They want to make resources more widely available for students, including a self-defense class and safety tips. They are now working on campus lighting and the blue-light system. Going forward, they will be working with Campus Police, Facilities Management, the administration and the Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT).
The Dining Services group is working on the “Grab ’n Go 2.0” by looking into ways that students can have access to Tupperware, which could increase sustainability and eliminate food waste. They are also considering student concerns about the Kosher station.
The group on community resources is working on initiatives to make resources on campus generally more accessible. They are examining ways to improve the free bins and a ‘flea market’ initiative, along with the First-Generation Low-Income Partnership (FLIP) program.
The financial stability group is currently researching the functionality of a cash-free campus and looking into the College’s endowment and where the money goes. They are also looking into establishing a program with UMassFive, the Five College Consortium credit union, that will educate students on how to be more financially stable and responsible.
The group for on-campus accessibility covers physical and mental challenges that may impact students’ lives in their campus environment, both in the short term and the long term. They are going to conduct a survey to assess the needs and priorities of the faculty and students; the group plans to address the top two things that the community needs the most.
The social media and outreach working group wants to give prospective and current students a new platform to become informed about campus life in a more informal way. Their goal is to target international, first-generation and low-income students especially. They plan to start a new Instagram account with the slogan “by the students, for the students” that incorporates a more holistic, realistic and in-depth approach to representing student life. They will focus on producing IGTV episodes and Instagram stories, as well as enhancing their presence on their YouTube channel.
Senate concluded with a reminder for students to take the Student Conference Committee’s annual survey. The fourth town hall of the fall semester will be held on Nov. 20 with representatives from Counseling Services and the Health Center present.