BU SG looks to boost transparency, student involvement

Boston University Student Government President Richa Kaul of the Push to Start ticket speaks to student government members at a meeting in Sept. 2013. PHOTO BY EMILY ZABOSKI/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Boston University Student Government President Richa Kaul of the Push to Start ticket speaks to student government members at a meeting in Sept. 2013. PHOTO BY EMILY ZABOSKI/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Following the election of a new executive board in Spring 2014, Boston University’s undergraduate Student Government is looking to tackle issues with their role as a representative student voice to engage the student body, promote transparency and support the university community.

Working from both the college and university wide level, SG serves as a system to advocate for student ideas and bring them to BU’s administration.

“One of the big plans for this year is to get the student body a lot more engaged by hearing their ideas, making sure we’re listening to them and they’re taking an active role in Student Government,” said Executive Vice President Joseph Ferme, a senior in CAS. “It does seem like a daunting community that is hard to get involved in, and a lot of students don’t know exactly what we do or how to get their foot in the door.”

Fostering transparency and accessibility to SG in groups such as the Boston University Student Think Tank will build awareness and interest from the study body, said Ferme.

“The BU Student Think Tank is something that will play a big role in changing the culture [and] making it easier for students to come and let us know about things,” he said. “It’s going to be a nice open forum students can come to and express their ideas and talk about them in that communal environment and have those ideas be brought to Senate or myself so I can direct them to a department, which will make the process easier.”

Tyler Fields, chairman of the Senate, said while the SG Senate is a great place for students to express their concerns, diverse perspectives can sometimes hinder progress.

“Like any governing organization, the more voices and opinions you have in the room, the more disagreements there are,” Fields, a junior in CAS, said. “I would say efficiency is a strength…but at the same time, it’s not the most agreeable organization at times because you have so many opinions. Relative to that, it’s a bit of a weakness and a strength at the same time, bureaucracy being a weakness.”

One of SG’s biggest challenges and goals is to make the student body aware of their accomplishments, Fields said.

“With the Saturday BUS schedule that everybody’s stoked about, I would bet 75 percent of people did not know that Student Government did that,” he said.

Alexander Golob, chairman of the College Government Presidents Council, said in addition to meeting with leaders from the various colleges, he looks to examine systemic issues that prevent SG from fully achieving its goals.

“Every year, we start with the same hopes and end with the same disappointments. We have great ideas and fall to the same pitfalls and barriers every previous year has fallen into,” Golob, a junior in CFA, said. “What CGPC is trying to do is address the issue of turnover [and] that the fact that every year there is a transition between one leader and another. The events planned last year all of a sudden become very difficult to plan.”

Alec Dalton, president of the School of Hospitality Administration Student Government, said while his college’s government is distinct from SG, both groups share common goals to support and empower students.

“It is important that SHA Gov. and the university-wide student government partner on common initiatives to strengthen our mutual influence and to prevent the inefficient duplication of resources,” Dalton, a senior dual-degree candidate in SHA and the School of Management, said in an e-mail. “In particular, we are committing to active involvement on the CGPC to help unify and coordinate the executive actions of the governing bodies.”

John Battaglino, assistant dean of students, said he is optimistic to work with SG based on their shared devotion to making the university a better place.

“Based on what I’ve seen so far, they have gotten students involved and to understand how administration makes decisions,” he said. “Student Government has many student leaders that are passionate and care about the university, which is exactly what we are. I am always optimistic about working with any student who wants to make their environment good for themselves and others.”

Several students said they realized SG is seeking to change the way it operates and spread awareness of its initiatives.

Gina McLellan, a sophomore in Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, said she does not know what is going on outside of her college government, but she looks forward to university-wide SG outreach.

“People should be more educated,” she said. “They don’t know what [SG] brings to the board. My college was good about telling us about what it was doing, but it is easier to do in a small school.”

Anna Marin, a freshman in CAS, said while she is happy that SG represents her interests as an international student, she would like to know how to voice her concerns.

“As an international student, it’s nice to know that my voice is still being heard and I have the same rights as other students,” she said. “I’m not the kind of person to find complaints, but if I were to speak up, I have no idea where to start. Knowing how to do that would be helpful.”

Jill Self, a senior in the School of Education, said as a former member of her college government, getting involved is the best way to know about what is going on with SG.

“If I had an issues, I would probably try going back to my school government and go through there,” she said. “I’m a student leader with outlets to find information out, but for people who haven’t sought leadership roles, it’s hard to feel that your opinion is important.”

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