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SGA establishes accessibility subcommittee

photo of Mckenzie ward giving her report as Evelyn Campbell and sam Houle listen
Leighah Beausoleil / THE GATEPOST

By Emily Rosenberg

Associate Editor

SGA established an accessibility subcommittee and discussed parking concerns at its Sept. 27 meeting.

Diversity and Inclusion Officer Erin Gemme said the accessibility “ad-hoc” subcommittee chaired by them will focus on advocating for accessibility rights on and off campus.

One goal of the subcommittee will be to hold an accessibility walk, they said. The walk will take students and administrators around campus to check that all places are up to the American Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements and consider what could be improved.

During open forum, Ryan Mikelis, a junior political science major and vice president of the Commuter Student Group, addressed concerns about parking. Mikelis said a large number of resident students have been parking in commuter-designated lots, making it difficult to find a parking spot in the morning. He said policing has been “ineffective and frankly useless,” noting how he has not seen any cars with resident student parking passes being ticketed by University Police.

He added though University Police is currently understaffed, they should still be managing the parking situation. He suggested University Police add large signs in front of the commuter-designated lots that read “commuter only,” allow commuter students to park in the faculty lots, or hire a parking enforcement officer.

“I can't express how annoying it is driving half an hour to campus and not being able to find a parking spot, which ultimately makes us [the commuter students] late for classes,” Mikelis said.

Student Trustee McKenzie Ward said she gets to Framingham State at 7 a.m. and around 40-50 cars are already in Maynard Lot. “Most commuters aren’t getting here at 7 a.m.

“It's not a matter of the number of parking spaces. It's a matter of resident students not realizing that commuter students are going through an extra hurdle that resident students do not have to face as a result of not living on campus,” she said.

Sam Houle, SATF treasurer, said as a resident student who relies on the RamTram to transport him from Union Lot, he understands why residents park in the closer lots because sometimes, he waits 30 minutes or longer for the RamTram.

He said in the time he is waiting, he could walk to campus. “But that is not an option for everyone, and it’s certainly not a preferable option if I’m paying for the service.”

Houle added both the University and Student Transportation Center should prioritize staffing prior to winter when walking becomes even more of a challenge due to the weather.

The Gaming Club requested $1,300 for their “Puzzle Party” event scheduled Nov. 3.

Audrius Sebeda, Gaming Club president, said the funds will be used to hire a company to host “large 2D and 3D puzzles” in the McCarthy Center Forum. The request was approved with no absentions or debate.

Ward discussed the upcoming Oct. 11 Administrators’ Forum. She said unlike prior years, when administrators sat in front of students “like a lecture,” the forum will be set up to look like a “U.”

With this set-up, she said she wants to encourage students to feel like they’re on the “same playing field” and not be “intimidated” by administrators.

Ward added she will also be following up with administrators later in the semester about what issues are discussed during the forum and returning to SGA with a report on whether they have been resolved or are starting to be resolved.

In their officer report, Gemme said it was brought to their attention by a couple of their friends that when they walk through the security devices in the library with hearing aids or a cochlear implant, it makes a loud “unbearable” noise.

They said people with hearing aids and cochlear implants can avoid the feedback from the security system by using the handicap entrance.

They said they are working with Millie González, dean of the Henry Whittemore Library, to place a plaque outside the entrance to warn people about this issue, but right now, there are paper signs on the door.

In her officer’s report, President Dara Barros said Academic Vice President and Provost Kristen Porter-Utley will be creating a “Student Advisory Council.”

Barros also encouraged students to attend the search committee open forums for the Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement finalists.

In her officer report, Ward reaffirmed her commitment to diversity and inclusion as student trustee after the racist comments made at the Board of Trustees subcommittee meetings on Sept. 13 and 14.

“I will be making sure that diversity and inclusion is a top priority of mine as student trustee and I will be making sure that it's included in every single conversation that we have as a board as well - whether that be the finances of the University, the academics, or enrollment,” she said.

Ward said she talked to Patricia Whitney, ​​assistant vice president of Facilities and Capital Planning, about the sidewalk that does not have a curb cut across from West Hall. Whitney has reached out to the city of Framingham about the issue and they are taking the necessary steps to add a curb cut.

In his officer report, Vice President Raffi Elkhoury said while meeting with President Niemi, he noticed administrators are often not aware when students are experiencing issues on campus because students do not inform them.

He used the example of weights disappearing from the gym. “These are issues that students should be vocalizing,” he said.

In her advisor report, Sara Gallegos, executive director of Student Experience and Careers and SGA advisor, said SGA will be transitioning advisors sometime during the academic year. The new advisor will be Leah Mudd, assistant director of orientation.

Six students were sworn in as senators: Ben Boyer, Max Poverman, Olivia West, Olivia Pepi, Gaby Prego, and Ben Hurney.

Senator Dillon Riley was awarded Senator of the Month for his commitment to SGA and involvement around campus.

The “U-Rock” award was presented to Ward by Barros for her dedication to the Board of Trustees.

[Editor's Note: McKenzie Ward is Opinions Editor for The Gatepost.]



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