During its meeting Feb. 9, SGA discussed difficulties with the Student Services Center (SSC) on the fifth floor of the McCarthy Center caused by COVID-19 safety protocols that include decreased staffing.
President Olivia Beverlie asked SGA members for help planning the resolution that will be sent to the SSC. The resolution draft will be written up, and then a vote will take place during the next SGA meeting.
Beverlie said the SSC has been an issue for many students due to its COVID-19 safety protocols.
She added the room that houses the Registrar, Financial Aid, and Student Accounts offices can only have one staff person at a time.
“That’s problematic because that one person does not actually know everything about each [of the] three offices,” Beverlie said.
She added the offices are no longer taking phone calls – only emails.
“They’re not forwarding their phone calls,” Beverlie said. “So, I know that people have been frustrated with that because sometimes, you just want to talk to a person and you can’t get that.”
Beverlie added the Dean of Students Office and the Paul T. Murphy rooms have been offered to SSC for use, but they have declined.
“They could have people in person that could be a resource for students,” she said. “You should be able to go there and get help – no matter what.”
Beverlie said recommending SSC to use these rooms will be their focus for this resolution, but she asked SGA members what else could be recommended if SSC does not agree to it.
Beverlie led with the first suggestion: “They should take on the responsibility of being able to do each other’s jobs.”
If this is also dismissed, she said, “They should at least be able to collect paperwork and put it somewhere.”
Secretary Lexi Kays raised a possible complication – whether the SSC staff members are union workers. She added they may not be able to take on each other’s work, and “that might have to be a bigger conversation with the union.”
Senator Samuel Houle asked if SSC has the capability to forward their calls. Beverlie confirmed that other campus offices such as the Health and Wellness Center and the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership Development are able to.
Senator Emma Sullivan asked if the hours of operation for the different SSC offices are available on the website, or if it is just a “gamble” of who will be in.
Beverlie said that these times are posted on their website, but “a lot of people obviously don’t know about that. They’ll just go up to the office, and expect that someone can be there to help them, and that’s where they’re running into issues.”
If a student’s schedule does not match with the posted times, they are left with no other options, Beverlie said.
Sullivan asked if SSC’s current location is permanent or temporary due to COVID-19.
Beverlie said, “I think we should recommend it as a permanent move.
“I do think something needs to be done permanently about that office because it’s a consistent issue,” she added. “It’s just being exacerbated due to the pandemic.”
Senator Raffi Elkhoury suggested a lock box to make students feel more comfortable leaving their papers with the office.
He said, “If you have something that you need to give to the registrar, then if there’s somebody from finance there, then you can just put it in the box, and then when they show up, they can look through the box, take out all the papers, and do what they need to do with them.”
SGA Advisor Sara Gallegos confirmed that SSC is currently using a lock box system. She said, “That’s one thing that they did come up with as a solution during all of this – that was a big move.”
Concluding the discussion, Beverlie added, “We’re customers in this. We are paying for this service. You should be able to go to them with this.”
SGA moved on to project brainstorming and funding projects. Beverlie said, “We have probably around $50,000 to $60,000 that we have not spent.”
If SGA does not spend this balance within the current fiscal year, it will be placed into the organization’s “reserves account,” Beverlie said. “Once [it is in] our reserves account, we cannot touch it.”
She added, “This is money that you guys, as students, are paying for.”
Beverlie said when COVID-19 began last year, there was extra money left over then as well, and “we started spending it on projects and programs for this year.”
In an article published by The Gatepost April 17, the following projects were reported as receiving funding: additional lighting and blue lights, furniture in the Student Veterans Center, renovations of the Center for Inclusive Excellence (CIE) in O’Connor Hall, a contribution for new equipment for the gym in the Athletic Center, water bottle filling stations, furniture in Club Room Two, and a donation to the Rams Resource Center.
SGA is sponsoring the showing of the movie “Women at War” for the Arts & Ideas Series, allocating $1,000 for movie rights, said Beverlie. The movie will be available to view for 24 hours and will be followed by a discussion.
SGA also distributed some of their funds for locks for campus club rooms, she said. “Before the lockers, [the club rooms] were kind of left to just die.”
Beverlie said accessibility on campus, specifically in Peirce Hall, will receive some of the club’s funds.
This may include the addition of an elevator or ramp – though it is currently unclear if the building’s structural integrity could support an elevator, she said.
In addition, SGA might work with the office of Lorretta Holloway, vice president of enrollment and student development, to translate part of the University’s website to Portuguese and Spanish – “making it more accessible for the local community as a whole,” said Beverlie.
The possibility of purchasing a button maker accessible to all campus clubs was suggested by Beverlie. “People love putting buttons and pins on their backpacks.”
Beverlie encouraged SGA members to email her and Kays with anything they would like to see done on campus for this month.
She added, “The only thing I will say when we’re thinking about these kinds of projects is they have to be open and accessible to all students.”
During open forum, Senator Emily Rosenberg discussed a recent TikTok video of a Framingham State Zoom class.
Rosenberg asked if University administration had done anything about the video, adding she is not comfortable knowing someone recorded a class without permission and nothing has been done about it.
“If someone recorded my class and put it on TikTok and 2 million people saw that, I would want something done about it,” she said.
As of Feb. 11, the video has received approximately 3.3 million views since its publication Feb. 4.
Beverlie said she will see what she can do in terms of bringing this to the administrators’ attention.
Following open forum, SGA swore in Star Clarke as a new senator.
“I am really excited about Star joining,” Beverlie said. “I know she already has some great ideas.”
During her report, Student Trustee McKenzie Ward updated SGA on the most recent Board of Trustees meeting.
Ward said during the Board of Trustees meeting Holloway discussed the decline in enrollment.
“So, I met with Dr. Holloway last week to talk about different marketing ideas that the school is doing, and also different ways they’re talking to new accepted students,” she said.
Ward added Holloway and Jeremy Spencer, dean of enrollment, have been hosting bi-weekly meetings on Wednesday nights with accepted students.
She said, “I decided to start going to those so that students can have a student perspective of what it’s like to be a student – academically, but also socially.”
Ward said Administrators’ Forum will take place “hopefully” on March 23 at 7:30 p.m. on Zoom.
During her President’s Report, Beverlie reminded SGA members that Stuff-a-Ram, an event co-sponsored with the Student Union Activities Board, will take place on Friday, Feb. 12 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This event will be in person in the Game Room located in the McCarthy Center.
Beverlie asked for volunteers to help with this event and to put together COVID-19 care bags.
She said the plan is to hand these bags out during testing Feb. 22 and 23, but if she does not get enough volunteers, it will have to be postponed.
At the close of her report, Beverlie said, “The last thing I just wanted to say is that I appreciate you all profusely. Thank you for listening to me, although I do think one thing that’s been lacking is our appreciation for each other this year.”
She added to change this lack of appreciation, SGA will be doing a virtual “U-Rock” award.
Senator Hillary Nna was the recipient of this week’s “U-Rock.”
[Editor’s Note: McKenzie Ward is Opinions Editor for The Gatepost, and Emily Rosenberg is Asst. Opinions Editor for The Gatepost.]