Brigid Archibald and Hannah Manning
UMass Lowell Student Government Association (SGA) elections open on Tuesday, April 2 and close the next day on Wednesday, April 3. This year, David Morton, a senior majoring in business and political science, and Hannah Casey, a sophomore majoring in political science, are running an unopposed ticket for SGA president and vice president.
Their campaign motto, which is prominently featured on both their website and promotional material, is “Building on Progress.” Morton explained that the motto pertains to expanding on the work that the SGA has accomplished this year and continuing its work on improving dining services, inclusivity on campus, safety, better accessibility and expanded resources for international students.
“We have taken some great steps to improve transparency between student government organization and students which is something we really want to continue,” said Morton. “So, continuing the progress that both Andre and Velma have led our current student government through.”
But their main talking point, according to Morton, is getting SGA more involved within the daily operations of clubs and organizations. They want to assist the clubs with recruitment, budgeting, running meetings and tabling events among other things.
“I would like senators to be going to clubs on regular bases checking in and saying ‘hey, here is what SGA is working on,’ and asking ‘what do you need help with,’” said Morton.
Both Morton and Casey have experience within the organization. Morton ran for SGA president last year, falling to eventual winner and current president Andre DiFilippo. He currently serves as the chair of both SGA’s Finance Committee and the student dining advisory committee. Casey serves as the vice-chair of the Campus Life committee.
Their experience has given both Morton and Casey ideas of specific initiatives that they want to pursue during their term next year.
Morton says that the dining services committee has been a success in giving the students a voice and dining services a chance to respond and improve their work. Casey mentions the tampon initiative and hydration stations as successful past programs that SGA has focused on.
But they both find there is much more work to be done. Morton and Casey are passionate about improving accessibility measures and giving international students on-campus jobs that are not just limited to bookstore, transportation and dining jobs.
On the specific front of accessibility, Casey points out weaknesses within some of the handicapped stalls in bathrooms on South Campus as not big enough to accommodate a wheelchair. Morton points to potholes and other road troubles that might make it difficult for those with mobility issues to move around campus.
“We have the goal of just leaving a legacy of growing this university and after we graduate in a year or two to see this university continue to grow, and that’s going to include having anyone who wants to go here be able to do so. They can’t be restricted by physical barriers,” said Casey.
In addition to improving accessibility, they also wish to make the campus a safer place for students by installing more blue buttons in places on campus that are not so heavily covered, such as some parking lots. They also want more resources made readily available to students.
Both state that they believe that they are not as aware of campus safety resources that they could be. They stress the important of “emergency preparedness scenarios” – i.e., what a student should do in the event of an active shooter on campus. They propose offering more seminars on these topics.
The last of their major priorities is campus pride, speaking specifically of the aesthetic of the campus. Morton says that while South Campus has attractive green space, North Campus in particular needs a bit of a facelift. He acknowledges that it is not as big a priority as accessibility or campus safety, but that pride plays a big part in enticing “students want to be here more.”
Their shared philosophy on aesthetic is indicative of the scope of their goals as president and vice president.
“They’ve done a lot, but it’s not there yet. So how can we make it nicer?” said Morton.