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Chief William Flagg speaks on UMPD safety initiatives

The University of Maine Student Government met on March 25 to welcome UMaine Police Department (UMPD) Chief Flagg, discuss rising student costs and coordinate a more widespread transparency of administrative actions. 

Club Maintenance:

The Nonpartisan Political Club addressed the Senate seeking preliminary recognition. The group promotes a mixing of political groups and facilitates discussion. A dozen or so members regularly attend weekly meetings in Fogler Library. They will hold events to integrate existing political clubs such as an open forum between Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians. Preliminary recognition was granted. 

Black Bears Who Care (BBWC) is a community service club designated for students to integrate pre-health professions with volunteerism. The organization seeks to improve mental and physical well-being through food/hygiene drives and a potential partnership with World Health. Since forming this semester, BBWC gained 10 members and 16 students on its email list.  

Guest Speaker:

Chief William Flagg spoke of the UMPD’s efforts in being a resource for the student body and emergency preparedness. Flagg took over as Chief a year and a half ago succeeding 35 years of work in law enforcement. 

“There is a difference between being a police officer on campus and being a member of the campus community, and that’s where we want to be. We want to be part of this team,” said Flagg. “I want to assure you that in today’s world and the problems that are occurring all over the country, our mission is very simple, but very powerful at the same time.”

He took an opportunity to share the UMPD pursuit of ensuring safety on campus for every student and staff member. With the 25th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting coming up, Flagg emphasized that officers undergo regular training to improve response capabilities for tragedies such as the Lewiston shooting back in October. He used the analogy of an insurance policy. The training, which may never be put into use, acts as insurance for an unforeseeable event. 

Safety is a top priority for UMPD. Flagg commended the devoted officers, who are there not only to enforce regulations but to support student success. He stressed that students should not be afraid to approach or speak to campus police. UMPD is always open with an officer on-call 24/7, 365 days a year. 

An emergency operation center is run out of the department. The multi-disciplinary team of employees within the UMaine System (UMS) stands ready to respond to and manage any major incident. Furthermore, there is a new initiative to include a mental health counselor when responding to calls. The program is still in progress. 

“I have a personal mission statement: To serve the students and staff of the University of Maine with pride, professionalism, fairness and respect. I have spent 35 years of my career living by that statement and I expect nothing less from my officers,” said Flagg.  

Executive Reports:

Student Body President Michael Delorge announced that he received a total of 36 applications for seven executive positions at UMSG. The interview process began and is expected to end by April 2. 

On March 24, Delorge, Vice President Keegan Tripp and Board of Trustees Representative Olivia Britton attended a monthly meeting with administration and leaders from the Graduate Student Government. The issue of cross-charging around the University was discussed, with the fee for students to rent out the Collins Center increased from $5,500 to $6,800 per night. Increasing fees negatively impact the student experience, specifically in athletics. 

Tripp will send out a UMSG Spring Survey to gauge student opinions and needs. He plans to include questions that are specific to next year. 

Tripp is also working on an initiative to create opportunities for a town hall discussion series between students and Administration next year. Each will be about an hour long and zero in on particular issues. He continues efforts to improve undergraduate relationships with Administration by opening more inclusive conversations. 

Myles Moore, vice president for student entertainment shared that 400 students reserved tickets to attend the Joe Gatto Comedy Show, sponsored by UMSG. Flyers with a QR code to secure a spot at the performance are available in dormitories and other spaces on campus. 

Moore will also hold a table at the Memorial Union on March 28 and April 2 to promote ticket sales. On Maine Day of Service, which is April 24, there will be five food trucks around the mall.  

Advisor Lauri Sidelko mentioned that UMaine Hockey competes against Cornell in Springfield, MA on March 28. Students are invited to attend a watch party in the North Pod of the Memorial Union at 5:30 p.m. Food will be provided. 

Black and White photo of members at 03/19/24 meeting.

Periodic Reports:

Britton attended the Finance, Facilities and Technology Committee meeting last week, where campus and system budgets were proposed. Governor Janet Mills appropriated an additional $10 million to the UMS for Fiscal Year 25. For the first time since 2015, the budgets are balanced without having to use budget stabilization funds. 

Enrollment is decreasing at UMaine Orono. Tuition increases are underway for Business and Engineering to $48 per credit hour and Nursing to $50 per credit hour. The technology fee will be $12 per credit hour for next year and its estimate for two 15 credit hour semesters is $360. Those funds will go toward deferred maintenance next year.

Meredyth Waters, academic affairs special committee chairwoman, attended the Associate Provost meeting on March 20 to bring prevalent student issues to administrative attention. Two of the concerns include Knack Tutoring payment issues and international student transfer credits. Waters also suggested the possibility of changing majors/minors and withdrawing from courses online. Lastly, she advocated against the new online class fee. 

“Part of the budget proposal is that online classes will now have a higher fee associated with them. I brought up the fact that students don’t get to choose if they take classes online or in-person anymore because too many of the required classes for our majors are taught only online”

New Business:

An act to allocate $2,208 toward eSports arena equipment upgrades passed. UMSG fulfills its responsibility to financially support the space by covering fees of $230 for three PS5 controllers, $70 for two PS5 charging stations, $180 for two switch controllers, $28 for the switch controller dock and $1,700 for 16 wire keyboards.

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