(Photo courtesy of Connor Redding) Redding is running on a platform of advocating for clubs and improving mental health
Student Trustee candidate Connor Redding says if elected, he hopes to improve River Hawk spirit and campus pride by enabling more student engagement on campus, providing a voice to student organizations, as well as changing how the Wellness Center and the campus approaches mental health.
The online polls will open at 9 a.m. on Thursday, April 16, and close at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 17. Students will be voting on the SGA president and vice president, as well as a student trustee who will act as the voice for UMass Lowell students at the board of trustee meetings.
Redding is a junior and the current president of the Robotics Club. Redding ran for the position last year on a similar campaign. This year, he says improving how UMass Lowell approaches mental health is a major goal of his.
“Mental health is that really fine balance that we need to work on. How our current mental health system works is that you are limited to—at least as of two semesters ago—we are limited to six sessions per semester, and that is, frankly, not enough,” Redding said.
In addition to increasing access to appointments, Redding says he would like to see a shift in how the university approaches mental health. Rather than fixing issues as they come up, Redding says mental health should be akin to fixing putting oil in a car.
“It is not just you go to therapy when you need help,” Redding said. “No, you go to therapy every week or two weeks to maintain yourself.”
Redding’s primary goal of providing a voice to students through clubs remains the same. He says he believes that clubs know best what engages students and what they are interested in.
“The school’s support system is currently good if you are a club that meets once a week and you eat pizza,” said Redding. However, when it comes to competing, holding events and making an impact, Redding said many of the club leaders he spoke to did not have the support or resources they need to succeed.
If elected, Redding said he wants to bring those voices to the board of trustees and ask for more funding or ask that funds be allocated to the club system.
“When we do good, it reflects well on the school,” said Redding. “When you see at a competition that UMass Lowell River Hawks got first or second place, then you can go, ‘Oh I might want to go to that school [because] they are obviously doing what I like.’”
Redding said this type of engagement makes people proud to be River Hawks and increases enrollment numbers.
“Our school has record low levels of on-campus engagement and activities. You’ll see other schools around the nation where they have these massive events constantly, whereas at UMass Lowell, we have a small event every once in a while,” said Redding.
To help better fund these clubs and organizations, Redding wants to look into the possibility of increasing the student activity fees, which are currently $220 a year.
“It is really difficult, but I think it is more than worth a 100 or 200 dollar a semester increase to make us more proud of our school as far as clubs go,” said Redding.
Redding said he knows that many students cannot afford to pay even that much more and that the goal would be to create a better forgiveness program for these fees, which would ensure that they would least impact the people who are most at risk.