The Rundown: a New Senator Joins the SGA, Discussion Over New Car Share Program, and New Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner in Counseling Services.


The Student Government Association (SGA) of Fitchburg State meets on a weekly basis in an effort to “empower the student body and represent their issues and concerns.” Although these meetings are open to all students, attendance outside of the committee members is seldom seen. The Point believes that coverage over these events is necessary to keep the student body further informed on any developments and decisions occurring within these meetings that could very well impact student life on and off of campus.

Jan. 31 Meeting

During the January 31 meeting, Student Government spent most of their time discussing new business. This included President Gustin swearing in a new SGA senator and the prospect of a new innovation arriving at Fitchburg State.

New Business

Treasurer Juan Casilla moved to allow $3,000 from travel’s budget to the Criminal Justice Club.

“Will you or your members be contributing out of pocket at all for the expenses?” Student Trustee Allison Turner asked one of the club’s representatives.

The Criminal Justice Club’s representative replied claiming that they will be contributing close to $300 to the budget.

The motion passed with two abstentions.

Introduction of a new SGA candidate

President Miranda Gustin then moved to elect Sophie Mitchell into the SGA senate of 2022-2023. After another senator seconded the motion, SGA gave Sophie Mitchell a chance to introduce herself.

Mitchell is a junior at Fitchburg State and is a business major with a concentration in marketing. She spends her summers working in a 10 week internship program selling Milwaukee power tools over a 10 store territory.

“I worked for team Boston. I was the only woman on the team. That tells you a little bit about me. I am not afraid to be an underdog,” Mitchell said to SGA.

Mitchell is also on the executive board for the Business Honors Society and has previously been a senator for Fitchburg State’s student government, but had to leave her post because of personal reasons. Now, however, Mitchell is ready to come back.

“What can you bring to the student government?” asked Treasurer Casilla.

“I’m so glad you asked that,” replied Mitchell. “Expanding on marketing strategies and promoting new ones. Working as a liaison to bridge between SGA and the business department, we need it. [I’m] not afraid to ask questions. I hold a presence in the room […] and I like to listen and understand new perspectives.”

After their introduction, President Gustin asked everyone who wasn’t a part of the SGA senate to temporarily leave the room while they discussed and voted on whether or not to swear in this new candidate.

Following the delegation, President Gustin congratulated Mitchell and swore them in as an official SGA senator.

Introduction to Car Share

After swearing in Senator Sophie Mitchell, Dean Hank Parkinson began introducing an idea to the SGA. The idea, Car Share, is a program that revolves around bringing two rental cars to Fitchburg State’s campus, where students could then rent these cars for an hourly rate for whatever needs they may have.

“I sent out a Google survey to all resident students. 94 students responded, which is actually pretty decent,” said Dean Parkinson.

Parkinson explained that the survey results showed that 66% of students said they would utilize the Car Share program, 41.3% of students said they would rent a car for two to four hours a week, and 31.3% of students said they would use it for transport to Community Health Connections.

The contract for the rental cars would be done through Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and the contract would be at the very least a whole year.

The contract would include two mid-size cars, and to rent them you would need to go through a phone application that gives you a code to get into one of the cars. The keys and a gas card would then be in the glove compartment. The gas for the car would be included in the rental price, and any renters would just be expected to fill up the tank with the provided pre-paid gas card before returning the car.

Despite this, Parkinson wanted to make it clear to SGA that there are a number of downsides to this program. SGA will be sponsoring this program, so ultimately, it will fall upon them on whether or not Car Share comes to Fitchburg State, and depending on how much SGA contributes to the contract, the hourly rate that students will pay could vary.

Parkinson also mentioned how if the monthly cost of the cars weren’t paid by student usage of the program, the remainder of the cost would have to be covered by the SGA budget.

“The downfall for me is that [the contract] does include the summer, so we’ll potentially have to pay more during the summer months because students are just not here utilizing the service,” explained Parkinson. “And you can’t cancel it for the summer and then come back.”

Parkinson also made note of the requirements to rent a car through this program. The rental process would require students to provide a valid driver’s license, as well as a valid car insurance. Any damages done to the car while a student is operating the vehicle, the student and their insurance would be responsible for any repairs.

“If you’d, god forbid, get in an accident, it’s on you,” said Parkinson.

Feb. 7 Meeting

Executive Reports

Treasurer Juan Casilla reported that the Financial Committee’s (FinCom) budget is at $16,829, and the travel budget is $7,671.

Treasurer Casilla also announced that he will be allotting $1,875.85 to the Honors Business Society from FinCom.

“This is because the money was taken from their account last year due to some mismanagement of papers,” explained Treasurer Casilla.

President Gustin went into detail about why the money allotted was being drawn from FinCom rather than SGA’s reserve.

“That money was never moved over from our previous treasurer, so that money was then moved into our reserve fund that SGA has access to. So instead of taking it from the reserve fund, which would take a little bit longer, [we] decided it’d be best to just take it out of FinCom,” said President Gustin. “So that way it’s them not waiting for something we did.”

Vice President Sydney Kinz reminds everyone to prepare for their upcoming, yearly retreat.

Committee Reports

Senator Vincent Algieri reported that the Recruitment Committee met with them to discuss possible ideas to better the recruitment of students into the SGA.

“These included the Falcon Bazaar to advertise some of the benefits that it offers, updating the board we use when we table, and something I just thought about now is bringing that board to SGA events to advertise who’s running these and a possible collaboration with [African Student Association] for March,” reported Senator Algieri.

Senator Seth Rigby reported on his meeting with the Housing Committee.

“To summarize, we discussed water refill stations in dorms, false fire alarm pulls, visibility of dorm interiors and floor plans, dorm furniture, and Cedar Street House building renovations,” said Senator Rigby.

Although he didn’t go into detail about all of these, Senator Rigby did explain the unlikelihood of having shuttle buses transporting students to and from Cedar Street House due to the amount of cars that cram the streets. He also announced that the lack of ethernet in Cedar Street House was not going to have any further development.

New Business

$2,130 was allotted to the African Student Association for a dinner party event.

$4,750 was allotted to the Cheerleading Club.

$1,800.14 was allotted to the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineering Club.

Feb. 21 Meeting

Due to the SGA’s annual retreat, President Gustin gave the senators the night off for February 16, so no meeting was held that day.

Executive Reports

Treasurer Juan Casilla reported that the Financial Committee’s (FinCom) budget is at $11,000.23, and the travel budget is $5,921.

Guest Speakers

The SGA invited Laura Bayless and Dr. Robert Hynes to speak about results from a Community Health Connections survey, and updates to Counseling Services, respectively.

According to Bayless, vice president of student affairs, 840 students answered some number of questions in the survey, and 501 students fully completed the survey.

“That’s a 20% response rate of students who fully completed it, and 33% response rate for students who answered some of the questions. Which is an extremely valid response rate,” said Bayless. “I was really pleased with the number of students who participated in this survey.”

78% of students who responded to the survey were aware that students could access healthcare services at the Community Health Connections locations in Fitchburg, Gardner, and Leominster.

26% of students who responded had accessed these services themselves, and 70% had not yet accessed these services.

The biggest point of contention over the new form of health services among students is how they are now farther away, and no longer accessible on campus.

Bayless recognized this and acknowledged that students may be curious as to how these statistics compare to the statistics of health services when they were offered on campus, she also mentioned that she did not have the answer to that question.

“The health services kept their records on paper and they did start tracking the number of students, but they’re not unduplicated,” said Bayless. “So there isn’t any way for me to know in this parallel way how many students used health services.”

Dr. Hynes, director of counseling services, was welcomed to the SGA meeting to speak about innovations in counseling services and answer any questions that the SGA or students attending the meeting may have.

“Fortunately, the administration has given us some resources over the past few years. I have some additional staff [in counseling services] to provide care, which is what we need,” said Dr. Hynes.

According to Dr. Hynes, the number of clinicians available for “urgent hours” has increased every year. Dr. Hynes explained that this focus on increasing the availability of “urgent hours” clinicians is because students don’t appear to have a desire to get involved in an ongoing counseling relationship, and would rather prefer a place to come in and talk about an issue that surfaced.

“[Urgent hours] are well utilized, for sure. Sometimes students will utilize those urgent hours and it’ll become an ongoing care relationship. Sometimes students just need help,” said Dr. Hynes.

Although Counseling Services was not able to secure a psychiatrist, Dr. Hynes explained that they were able to get a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

“We didn’t get a psychiatrist. They’re very difficult to get. What we did get is a psychiatric nurse practitioner who has the capacity to write scripts for psycho pharm meds that we need: antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, ADHD meds,” said Dr. Hynes.

Liaison Reports

Although Senator Lordorina Hercule, Chartwell liaison, was not present, another senator took their place to report on their last meeting with Jeff McVoy.

“It’s come to my attention that some students have reported finding mold in their food. [McVoy] assured me that the cupcakes are served fresh daily and don’t spend more than two days being served. We encourage all students at the dining hall to let us know ASAP if they see something along these lines,” reported Senator Hercule.

New Business

A motion to sponsor a drag queen for the annual Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) Drag Show event was passed.