Part of the SGA president’s role is to be the face of the Student Body at the board of trustees meeting, which occurs tri-annually
In addition, the SGA president updates the board on what the SGA senate has been working on and what they plan to do in the upcoming four months.
“Every administration comes in with passion projects; these happen to be [Vice President Nicole Woodcock] and mine,” Petrillo said.
For Petrillo, his passions are student health and wellness, as well as communication between clubs and SGA, he said.
Petrillo and Woodcock have begun discussions with many people on campus, discussing increased awareness and resources for mental health and wellness on campus.
In addition, they have created a committee to work together on this issue that includes faculty, SGA senators and staff.
The statement Petrillo prepared for the May 19-20 meeting stated that SGA was also in the process of creating an ad-hoc committee to improve communication between SGA and clubs on campus.
Ad-hoc committees are created to address issues that overlap from committee to committee, Petrillo said.
This ad-hoc committee will address communication between SGA and both environmental groups and identity groups on campus, he said.
The decision to create this came in part when student leaders came to SGA with concerns about communication after the name of the BLM theft was revealed, Petrillo said.
Though these conversations contributed to the immediate creation of this committee, it was always part of Petrillo’s vision to implement increased communication, he said.
Petrillo said it is so early in its formation that it has yet to form a clear mission yet.
Petrillo also updated the board on the status of the advising center, the health and wellness fund and the Catamount Innovation Fund, all programs brought to life in the previous administration.
Author’s note: This story was originally printed in the Vermont Cynic on Oct. 27, 2016.
Students will soon have access to a new program promoting innovation.
UVM’s new center for student innovation and ideas is set to be completed by the end of next semester, SGA President Jason Maulucci said.
The new program aims to help students with entrepreneurial ideas pursue their goals, Maulucci said.
“What we’re in the process of doing right now is establishing an innovation fund in which students with business of non- profit startup ideas can come to a panel or board of students and make a pitch and apply for funding to fund their idea and turn it into a reality,” he said.
The program will give students the opportunity to pursue their business ideas regardless of what they study, Maulucci said.
“Right now the concept of innovation and entrepreneurship can be siloed inside the business school and there are plenty of students outside and inside of the business school… who have ideas that can turn into impactful, successful, productive businesses,” he said.
When the project comes to fruition, SGA hopes to have a committee of about 15 students who oversee the funding for the program, Maulucci said.
Additionally, a board of local advisers and leaders in the business community will act as mentors for students, he said.
Students are excited for the possibilities that the implementation of UVM’s new center for student innovation and ideas will bring about at the end of the spring 2017 semester.
“I think this could make starting a business as a young person much easier, instead of just assuming your idea could never be a real thing,” first-year Juls Sundberg said.
Sundberg also believes this would help students network.
“It would also be great experience in professional public speaking,” she said.
Sophomore Bridget Dews also supports the program.
“This is a great thing for the UVM community,” Dews said.
There are many students who don’t know where to go if they have ideas, she said.
Author’s note: This story was originally printed in the Vermont Cynic on Oct. 20, 2016.
Students have added their voice to faculty contract negotiations this year.
A resolution passed by SGA Oct. 2 outlines undergraduates’ expectations for an upcoming bargaining agreement between the University and United Academics, the faculty union.
SGA believes the expectation must be explicitly written into a contract in order for the policy to be upheld, SGA President Jason Maulucci said.
“It is our role to represent what is best for students, and what is best for students is what is best for the University,” Maulucci said.
United Academics was not available to comment at this time.
Under the resolution, SGA states it expects there to be explicit language on the timing that syllabi are released, more professional development opportunities and a call for extended office hours.
The expectations set forth in the resolution are a way to hold faculty accountable for responsibilities outlined in federal higher education policy.
As of right now, there is no University document that does this, Maulucci said.
Extended course description and access to syllabi at the time of registration have been policies SGA has been attempting to enforce for over 20 years, he said.
In each of UVM’s peer colleges and universities, they should hold faculty accountable for releasing syllabi and other course information, the resolution states.
This gives students the ability to plan out finances or decide not to take a course, Maulucci said.
Sophomore Molly Keenan said she is happy SGA took this step.
“I think it’s great that SGA is taking the initiative,” Keenan said. “If I am paying this money for an education, I want to know what I need for the class so I am not spending so much money.”
McKayla Kingsbury, a continuing education student, said she is excited.
“If you don’t get the help you need, you’re not going to succeed,” Kingsbury said.
During the last collective bargaining negotiations in January 2014, SGA voiced concerns with portions of the negotiations, according to a Feb. 2, 2014 Cynic article.
SGA released a statement in February of that year stating they did not support UA nor an increase in pay because it would increase undergraduate tuition, the article states.
“These are several items that we believe would benefit not just students, but the entire University,” the resolution states.
The bargaining negotiations will begin in spring 2017, according to a Sept. 6 Cynic article.
Author’s note: This story was originally printed in the Vermont Cynic on Oct. 5, 2016.
Executive members of SGA have set the course for several new initiatives this year.
Upon entering their second year in office, SGA President Jason Maulucci and Vice President Tyler Davis have set a goal for SGA for the 2016 school year: holding the organization accountable in order to elevate its role in student’s lives.
“These two ideas work together,” Maulucci said. “You can’t have ‘elevate’ unless you have ‘accountability.’”
Accountability will begin with transparency at every level, Davis said. Committee chairs will post agendas and details about the roles and responsibilities of each senator.
Accountability will translate into actions SGA will take as a group, he said.
As negotiations with the faculty senate begin, the accountability portion of this vision will drive SGA to pursue contracts that hold faculty accountable for ensuring descriptions and needed course materials be made available to students before they register for courses, Davis said.
“We feel that syllabi and expanded course descriptions should be expected when registration opens,” Maulucci said in a Sept. 6 Cynic article.
With accountability emphasized at UVM, Maulucci said SGA wants to elevate their involvement to one that reaches beyond the limits of campus.
“We want to be involved in everything that impacts students,” he said, “not just [on campus].”
A glimpse of this involvement was seen last year when executive members of SGA went to the State House to support members of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
A key portion of this involvement resides in the students’ relationship with Burlington, Maulucci said.
To do so, SGA is currently gathering information that examines the role UVM students play in the city’s economy, he said.
In addition, Maulucci said he is hoping to bring innovative minds into the Burlington committee by entering the beginning stages of an innovation center.
SGA currently has one of the most experienced bodies in its history, with a retention rate of 80 percent, according to a May 5 Cynic article.
Author’s note: This story was originally printed in the Vermont Cynic on Sept. 23, 2016. Photo by Phil Carruthers for the Vermont Cynic.
A photo of a Black Lives Matter flag flying outside the Davis Center has garnered national media attention.
UVM’s African, Latino(a), Asian and Native American Student Center will be hosting a “Black Out” event to support the flag being raised, sophomores Akilah Ho-Young and Haydee Miranda said in a Sept. 23 email to the ALANA community.
“The purpose of the Black Out, is to welcome people of color and their alliances to dress in all black attire on Monday September 26, 2016,” they said. “The initiative of this event is to embrace the Black Lives Matter flag that was recently raised to pay tribute the tragic deaths within our community.”
At 4:30 p.m. the ALANA community will gather in front of the Black Lives Matter flag to take a photo of everyone wearing black attire, Ho-Young and Miranda said.
SGA sponsored the flag’s placement, which was raised Thursday, SGA Vice President Tyler Davis said.
Ho-Young posted a photo on Facebook Sept. 22 that has been shared over 4000 times.
“Every single person in this world is cherished by somebody. So we protect everybody. Because every person killed is someone losing their baby. That’s why we fight. Thank you UVM. I don’t always feel proud of you, but today I do,” she posted.
Commenters on local news station WCAX expressed concerned for the prominence of the flag on the campus.
“All lives matter, but no flag should be flown at the same height as our American flag,” Chad Cameron, a facebook commentator, stated.
The Black Lives Matter one-issue movement was founded after the death of Trayvon Martin in 2013, according to the organization’s website.
“Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise,” according to the website.
The Black Lives Matter movement has received both national support and backlash. Some say the movement deems other lives invisible.
Author’s note: This story was originally printed in the Vermont Cynic on Dec. 13, 2015. Photo by Oliver Pomazi for the Vermont Cynic.
Students at the University of Vermont are now taking a stand opposing the Faculty Senate’s April 13 decision to eliminate reading days starting fall 2016.
Following a Dec. 9 Cynic article, students have organized petitions and protests in response to the removal of reading days.
Junior Alexander Collingsworth said he is organizing a student “walkout,” where students will “respectfully” walk out of class to protest.
“It’s about students having a voice,” he said.
The organizers have a Facebook group called “Give Us Back Our Reading Days!” The group had 296 members as of Dec 12.
The walkout will be held Jan. 25 at 1 p.m., according to the group’s Facebook page.
The group’s petition had received over 1,500 signatures as of Dec. 11, Collingsworth said.
On Dec. 11, SGA President Jason Maulucci and Vice President Tyler Davis sent a letter via email to the Faculty Senate entitled “Reading Days, Mental Health and Academic Success.”
Maulucci said the email was written after he received four dozen emails from students requesting action on the schedule change.
“After seeing the opposition behind the end to reading days, it’s our responsibility to act as the representative body of the students,” he said.
Though the Faculty Senate initially asked for an opinion from SGA during the planning process, they never asked for input on the final decision, Maulucci said.
“I think that most students are in favor of changing the date of spring break and adding a fall break, but obviously many students disagree with reading days,” he said.
Maulucci and Davis’ email was addressed to the Faculty Senate at the University of Vermont.
“It is incumbent of us to write to you and express the serious mental health and academic concerns that have arisen as a result of the decision to eliminate reading days in the fall 2016 semester,” the email stated.
As of Dec. 11, 700 people had liked a Facebook post by Maulucci in both the University of Vermont Class of 2017 and 2018 Facebook groups announcing to his peers that he was writing a letter addressing these concerns to UVM administration and the Faculty Senate.
Maulucci said he hopes the letter can serve as a tool for dialogue between students, faculty and administration.
SGA respects the Faculty Senate, and believes that they should have taken the care they did to hear students as they did faculty, Maulucci said.
The Faculty Senate voted to end reading days for the 2016-2017 academic year.
The Faculty Senate has the best intentions to represent the students but a letter was necessary because students disagree with this decision, Maulucci said.
The Faculty Senate went to SGA for input in the initial planning for the schedule change in January 2015, Thomas Chittenden, the co-chair of the Faculty Senate’s Student Affairs Committee, stated in an Dec 12 email.
“The discussion with the SGA was a 75 minute healthy conversation about all of the possible calendar configurations that were being explored,” he wrote.
Additionally, feedback was taken from various organizations on campus over a ten month period, the email stated.
Author’s note: This story was originally printed in the Vermont Cynic on Dec.8, 2015. Photo by Oliver Pomazi for the Vermont Cynic
Students will have five consecutive days of exams starting fall semester 2016.
Reading days will be removed, UVM officials say.
This new schedule change is due to a resolution passed by the Student Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate.
Some students said they are upset by the idea of eliminating reading days.
“Thank God I’m leaving, are they nuts?” senior Danielle Manginelli said.
“I need stress relief and I need to study and that’s what reading days are for,” Manginelli said.
There is an increase in alcohol and marijuana violations and student detoxes on reading days, according to the Brief Alcohol Screening Intervention for College Students Program, said Jeff Rettew, assistant director of LivingWell.
B.A.S.I.C. is a motivational intervention program for students with multiple alcohol offenses, according to the Center for Health and Wellbeing.
Jon Porter, Director of the Center for Health and Wellbeing, said he is concerned about the Naked Bike Ride, which occurs on the last day of classes.
“Naked Bike Ride worries me every year just based on what we see in terms of detoxes and physical injuries, ranging through interpersonal violence and inappropriate sexual contact,” Porter said.
He said it is a positive thing if students do not end their semester partying with drugs and alcohol.
“I was there when the Faculty Senate voted on it, and I think there was a lot of agreement for the reasons we’ve talked about: stress during the semester, giving students a release valve in October and that long week- end,” Porter said. “Like every change, we have to see how it works.”
First-year Tim Smith believes more students use reading days to study than party.
“Even though some people take advantage of them to party or whatever, the number of people who do use them is worth keeping them,” Smith said. “I don’t think the benefits [of removing reading days] outweigh the drawbacks.”
Sophomore Bonny Filker also said finals are stressful.
“Finals are the most stressful time,” Filker said. “I desperately need [reading days].”
Sophomore Madeleine Cary expressed similar sentiments.
“Weekends are distracting, you’re working, you’re seeing friends,” Cary said. “Reading days are my lifeblood. I am 110 percent against this.”
Junior Leo McCarthy believes the schedule change will affect students’ grades.
“It’s not worth it, even for a shorter school year. I would ask for more Reading Days, even if finals go later into the year,” McCarthy said.
“Binge drinking is going to happen either way,” he said. “People use those days for sleep, too, no one’s going to be rested, and our grades are going to get worse.”
When looking at the change the Faculty Senate allotted a 3-day break for mental health, while still maintaining a week long Thanksgiving break, Thomas Chittenden, the co- chair for the Faculty Committee for Student Affairs said.
The faculty also spoke to SGA to get their input, he said.
“I went to SGA last January and presented these topics and got their feedback. It was a healthy conversation,” Chittenden said.
One thing that SGA brought to the conversation was to include a shift in spring break, SGA President Jason Maulucci said.
SGA wanted students to have the opportunity to participate in Town Meeting Day, Maulucci said.
There was no follow-up or vote from the faculty committee to SGA with the final decision, he said.
Registrar Keith Williams said he is proud that SGA was included in the schedule change.
“The fall break day was very important to the SGA, along with balancing the instructional days between the fall and spring semesters, something had to give,” he said.
“The debate was lengthy, there was a lot of concern for the stress of students,” Williams said.
Another change is a fall recess of one day Oct. 16 starting fall 2016, according to the academic calendar.