April 14, 2020—The Undergraduate Student Government at UMass Boston put together a virtual event for students to ask questions and hear important updates on different petitions and meetings with administration.
The Zoom link was posted on USG’s instagram (@umassusg) for people to click on at 2 p.m.. President Alex Killian, Vice President Macie Jones, Speaker Michelle Martens, Student Trustee Kush Patel, along with a number of viewers, were logged into the call. While the officials in USG spoke, notes were taken on a google doc with the final version being uploaded to instagram.
After Martens started the meeting explaining she’s the moderator and asked the attendees to use the ‘raise hand’ function for questions, Killian opened the Town Hall saying, “The idea of this town hall is to hear what concerns students have been having. We've been hearing from a lot of different sources. We've gotten great input and we want to attempt to have a bigger sort-of open forum. Right now there is [sic] only about ten of us here but that's okay. So we want to hear your concerns, if you have any questions you want us to answer we'll do our best, and this is truly a forum for dialogue.”
Killian and Patel initiated the conversation with what’s happening with this year’s commencement ceremony within the age of COVID-19. They are both on the Commencement Committee. Patel stated, “I guess one thing we can quickly bounce off on is, I know a lot of students were concerned about commencement and what's happening for this summer. Earlier, a few weeks ago, the Chancellor sent out an email saying, 'We'll be looking to do something virtual.' And after that a lot of students spoken up against it, you know, raised their concerns. Saying that, you know, 'I don't want a virtual commencement, I want something to be planned for in person. I'd like it to be postponed until the fall or until whenever it's feasible.' There's a commencement committee, which myself and Alex both sit on with the other staff members who plan and organize commencement. And so, they had a meeting a few weeks ago to talk about the survey that went out to students. There's roughly 900 graduating seniors that have responded to the survey and the results that they got were overwhelmingly in support of postponing and doing an in-person ceremony at a later date.” To go further, Patel talked about how Chancellor Newman agreed to a postponed ceremony but they don’t know if that means Fall 2020 or something occurring in May 2021. They were also looking at ‘Graduation in a Box’ as a way to celebrate seniors at home. The school would ship out their diplomas, caps and gowns, and cords while also having a commencement ceremony in the future.
USG has a few petitions going around but one in particular is a petition to be able to withdraw from classes without consequences. President Killian stated, “In the meantime I can speak a bit about one of our petitions we sent to the administration regarding the option to withdraw from classes without any consequences on your transcript. This hasn't been discussed yet. We were part of a student leadership council meeting last week where we talked with Provost Emily McDermott and we talked about different policies that are going on regarding academics and I mentioned if they thought about it, if they had been considering it, they said they haven't been. I still want to know if they have. I think we're going to try and set a meeting with them soon to figure it out but up to this point there hasn't been any talk about it and I'm hoping we can start talking about it.”