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The Collegian News Blog

SGA to Gargano: 'Thanks for resigning'

Monday, January 28, 2008

Following fast on the heels of former Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael Gargano's departure from the University, the representatives of the Student Government Association released this statement to the Massachusetts Daily Collegian:

"We thank Michael Gargano for his resignation as Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs. More importantly, we thank you- the current student body, and especially those who participated in the recent general student strike-for issuing the final blow to his career at UMass Amherst.

Since Gargano's arrival in 2003, Student Affairs has attempted to…

1. Gentrify our campus by:

- Cutting staffing and operating budgets for the Everywoman's Center, the Stonewall Center, and the ALANA support programs by approximately 50%

- Allowing the University' outreach efforts to disintegrate: since 2003, the campus has lost all of its major grant-funded outreach programs, including Talent Search and the Division of Outreach

- Supporting a group of students who participated in a drunken photo shoot in the Student Union where they used KKK imagery to mock ALANA students. Gargano worked with this same group of students to eventually eliminate the Office of ALANA Affairs.

2. Militarize our campus by:

- Encouraging random, unsolicited police patrols in dormitory hallways

- Eliminating students' right to appeal "Level One" offenses as defined by the Code of Student Conduct (CSC), hence limiting students' right to due process, as guaranteed by the US Constitution

- Spending thousands of dollars of student money installing surveillance cameras, then using shady footage from these cameras to suspend students "participating" in the recent riots, hence fueling multiple lawsuits against the University.

- Toughened the "picketing code" (our homegrown variety of Bush's "Patriot Act"), which threatens to punish students by expulsion for participation in campus demonstrations and free speech activities

3. Curtail student decision -making power and student-initiated activities by:

- Allowing student organizations to suffer from increasingly strict policies, decreased access to student space, and increased costs to use student space and equipment

- Interfering with student organizations' and governance bodies' independence and ability to spend their own funds

4. Generally put students "last" by:

- Steamrolling ahead with a plan to force all incoming students to live in first-year only housing beginning in fall 2008, which will turn nearly all of Southwest and Orchard Hill into first-year housing and push upper-class students off campus

- Fostering general feelings of distrust, exclusion, administrative paternalism and antagonism among studentsAt the same time, students have resisted these efforts at every turn.

Since Gargano's arrival, students have successfully:

- Blocked his efforts to install random bag and room searches

- Released funds for student-initiated outreach programming.

- Reversed proposed staffing cuts to RSO advising staff

- Attracted national attention for last fall's "general student strike."

- Voted "No Confidence" in Gargano's abilities as a Vice Chancellor less than 2 years after his arrival on campus.

- Helped to block Gargano's hire as the president of Westfield State College.

- And-alas-helped to force Gargano's resignation from the University.

Gargano's departure offers an opportunity to collectively re-evaluate what ourcampus can, and should, be. Yet his policies will outlive his presence. We remained concerned about the future of student life at UMass Amherst:

- Will Student Affairs continue to ignore our University's mission as an accessible, affordable land-grant institution designed to serve, welcome, and support ALL students?

- Will our campus respect student decision-making power, or will the administration continue to assume that they know what is best for us?

- Will the campus' new leadership passively allow Gargano's policies to unfold? Or will they use Gargano's resignation as an opportunity to find solutions to long-standing issues of campus diversity, democracy, and respect for students?

- At the close of this semester, will you the students nod in agreement with thesigns that welcome you to campus with the proclamation, "Students First," or will Gargano's slogan remain an empty promise?

We encourage you to help shape the answers to these questions. Since last fall's student strike, a team of elected students has been meeting with administrators to negotiate solutions to many of these issues. Plans for another strike-and other possible actions-are in the works. Visit: http://strike.umassgss.org/

Lastly, our greatest sympathies go to the students at Louisiana State University (LSU). We are considering plans for an "activist spring break" to LSU - contactus if you'd like to join us in offering solidarity (and continued condolences)to the students at Gargano's new home."
posted by Derrick Perkins, 9:03 PM


Wow, they really take too much pride in the little they do.
commented by Anonymous MJT, January 28, 2008 at 11:07 PM  
Pretty classy. You'd think Gargano was eating babies.

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