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Student Government taking action to see College of Ed voices heard

Andrew J. Sciascia
Connector Editor

The oft-forgotten College of Education is soon to see official representation by UMass Lowell’s Student Government Association.

According to student body President David Morton, the organization is now entering the final stages of a long-running effort to introduce six new seats to the SGA Senate, all of which will be reserved for undergraduate education majors.

“The College of Education has been here in the undergraduate world for a number of years and they have yet to receive representation on student government,” Morton told The Connector. “It was a small college in the beginning, from my understanding, and we have been talking over the last year about getting them seats.”

“Luckily, we’re finally starting to move forward with that,” Morton added.

That forward progress has reportedly come in the way of formal amendments to the SGA Constitution, crafted in an attempt to expand the organization’s central voting body.

Still in the drafting phase, these amendments have been reviewed at length and approved by advisors Sarah Rine and Brenda Evans as well as the Governance Committee and will soon be forwarded along to the UMass Board of Trustees.

Alongside its other responsibilities, the 22-member governing body holds the power to review and pass amendments to the constitutions of all student organizations in the UMass system directly funded by their respective university administration.

There is confidence among SGA’s ranking members, Morton told The Connector, that the initiative will pass when brought before the board.

With less than three percent of the undergraduate student body under its roof, according to UMass Lowell’s 2018 enrollment data, the College of Education is often overlooked at the university. But its complex history, lasting more than 100 years, is rooted as far back as any of the pieces which came together to make up UMass Lowell some 45 years ago.

Born in what is now Coburn Hall in the days of Lowell Normal School and Lowell State Teacher’s College, the College of Education has most recently made its home in O’Leary Library for several decades, returning home to a renovated Coburn this year during the university’s 125th anniversary celebration.

What better time to put to rest a years’ long discussion regarding student government representation for the college?

“[This initiative] kind of started before me, before my tenure as president or even as chair, just as a conversation,” Morton said. “There may even have been a student at one point that brought it as a concern, but I think in large part it was a self-realization that we have this entire college for educators and not really any representation for them.”

And that representation, Morton said, would be key going forward, allowing the body to more effectively and efficiently tap into student sentiment in the coming years, not only within the College of Education, but the student body at large as well.

“Having equal representation across the campus is extremely important,” Morton said. “As far as executive board is concerned, there are maybe five or six of them, including myself. And they are the ones addressing student concerns within their committees, but we cannot be all over the school finding out what all those issues that need to be addressed are.

“We need students on senate, out in the field,” the three-year student body representative continued, “out there on their day-to-day business, talking to students and understanding what is going on, talking to students in their residence halls.”

He added, “That is how we get our agenda. We don’t have an agenda unless we know what the students want.”

As of now, however, the College of Education’s six new senate seats remain on hold until after the upcoming slew of SGA elections, when the entire university system’s Board of Trustees can finally put them to a vote.

Should all go according to plan, undergraduate education majors interested in representing their college will be able to campaign for the seats come annual vacancy elections this fall.

Until then, student government has begun to shift focus toward filling its current roster.

Comprised of six seats for each of the remaining five colleges and another 12 At-Large seats, the senate has no shortage of work to do filling vacancies come April each year – a challenge Public Relations Chair Brett Pugh has reportedly risen to the occasion in facing.

The window for candidacy announcements and nominations was closed March 16 by the Office of Student Activities.

Official Student Government Association elections will be held virtually on April 1 and 2 this year at web.uml.edu/elections.

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