Union supports idea of Rape Crisis Center

Student Union unanimously voted to endorse the Center for Gender, Sexuality and Activism’s initiatives to establish a Rape Crisis Center at Boston University.

The CGSA proposed a center apart from Student Health Services that would include two full-time counselors, said College of Communication senior Becca Wilkinson, a CGSA volunteer and Feminist Collective member.

“The need for a physical space and presence on campus has become acutely clear,” Wilkinson said. “A number of physical and financial resources will be necessary in order to implement such a center on BU’s campus.”

CGSA members continued to discuss the center’s hours, which were not finalized at the time of the meeting. The final draft of the proposal is expected to be completed by March 18, after which point Union is expected to put the measure to a vote.

Wilkinson said the space would allow the Center to be a better resource and serve as a way to educate students.

“There would be a community feel and then another private area with a different entrance,” Wilkinson said. “There is a safety and confidentiality concern that we need to be aware of.”

Union President Howard Male said members should take into consideration that the proposal is still in development.

“Do people feel comfortable voting for a proposal that has yet to be drafted? It seems like there are a lot of moving parts still,” Male, a School of Management and School of Hospitality senior, said.

CGSA members approached Union for support before their meeting with BU officials on March 19, Wilkinson said. Union’s support may reflect students’ interest for the center.

Several senators suggested ways to amend the proposal so Union could vote to support it when they see the final proposal in late March.

Union Adviser John Battaglino stopped by as a guest speaker and discussed the issue of student involvement in a number of issues on campus.

Battaglino, executive director of Student Activities and Operations, who does not interfere with Union to allow students to work independently, told students to focus on creating “meaningful conversations” with other BU students. Senators should focus on Union’s purpose, as well as how they govern themselves and cooperate to best represent students, he said.

Battaglino said he was proud of the measures Union passed, including the election timeline change, the smoking courtesy campaign and support for the cage-free eggs initiative.

“I’m probably most proud that you folks continue dialogue on community issues such as gender-neutral housing,” Battaglino said.

Battaglino noted the challenges and responsibilities that come with serving as a student representative.

“You’ve got to have conversations with students that you can share,” he said. “You’ve got to go back to your community and ask what they need and widen the umbrella.”

Senators asked Battaglino about a number of ideas and proposals and how to execute them.

Sen. Tarif Ahmed, a College of Arts and Sciences junior, asked why the gender-neutral housing proposal has not gone through despite years of effort.

Battaglino said universities work slowly by nature. He used example of the amount of time that it took BU to change the old guest policy.

“Now that we know students are interested [in gender-neutral housing], we have to find a way to implement it,” Battaglino said. “We are being conscious of how we implement it. I do suspect that within the next year, you will see some form of gender-neutral housing.”

Sen. Haley Jensen, a School of Education sophomore, asked how BU could better accommodate students with disabilities. The issue of swinging doors in CAS, for example, caused problems for people in wheelchairs, she said.

“One of the biggest challenges in disability services is that we are an old place with old services,” Battaglino said.

The admission reception office is not handicap accessible, Battaglino said. However, the new Admissions office that is being build will be made handicap accessible.

Union members gave updates on a number of ongoing projects involving the BU buses, disability accessibility and other initiatives.

Outreach Committee Chair Alyssa Sarkis, an SED sophomore, said the committee is working to improve the BU bus schedule and application, as well as Greek Life relations and accessibility for students with disabilities.

Additionally, Sarkis said the committee began a “proud to BU” campaign to reinvigorate school spirit among students.

Union Vice President Alex Staikos told members they while they can exercise a “tremendous amount” of power, the e-board will support them in their initiatives.

“The e-board is here to support you with what you need and we have the resources to make that happen,” the SMG sophomore said. “We’ve been trying to get away from the e-board planning what Student Union does. The rest of the semester is really in your hands. We are here to support you.”

With that in mind, Staikos said members should consider what goals they want to reach by the end of the semester.

“We’re halfway through the semester and we are at a really critical point,” he said. “Think about what you want to see for the rest of the semester.”

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