Campus, News

Student leaders raise issue at town hall meeting

Dozens of Boston University Student Government representatives and organization leaders met to voice their concerns with BU’s administration at the George Sherman Union Back Court Tuesday.

Students who attended a Thursday Student Leaders Dinner, intended as a forum for student organizations to speak with University President Robert Brown, said Brown inadequately addressed or cut off their questions, and did not address issues students leaders raised with the seriousness they deserved.

“The validity of our student voice has been questioned,” said Student Body President Dexter McCoy.

McCoy, a College of Communication senior, said he called Tuesday’s meeting to get feedback from students about Thursday’s events.

During the 75-minute meeting, attendees criticized Brown and other university officials for their responses to concerns raised at Thursday’s dinner as well as in other interactions with the administration.

Several students referred to a “communication gap” between students and administrators.

McCoy said Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore recently rebuffed an offer to meet with BUSG members, yet invited other student leaders to meet with him in small groups.

Elmore, who was not present at the town hall meeting, said he is meeting with student leaders to address any issues they may be encountering.

“I want to check in with club and organization presidents, do some listening sessions, and say, ‘talk to me about your concerns with the Student Activities Office,’” Elmore said in a separate interview.

After Thursday’s student leaders dinner, Elmore said he has been working to communicate information with some students who voiced concerns.

“We have followed up with a couple of other students in terms of things that they needed or in some cases some troubleshooting they needed to have done about a variety of issues,” he said.

Richa Kaul, BUSG’s executive vice president, said Tuesday’s meeting was necessary.

“I think that right now, when we still have that passion after Thursday night’s dinner, it was easy to harness that passion and actually come together to be in one group and talk about the same thing,” said Kaul, a sophomore double majoring in BU’s College of Arts and Sciences and School of Management.

Kaul said the conversation eventually shifted away from criticism and toward brainstorming measures to strengthen the voice of students on campus.

Student leaders said a communication gap also exists between the Student Government and the student body.

Claire Richer, a member of DivestBU, an organization dedicated to encouraging BU’s divestment from unsustainable practices, said while Student Government voted in favor of her group’s causes, the support has not yet translated into any action.

“We brought divestment up to them as an issue last year, and they voted on it,” Richer, a CAS junior, said. “Other than that, we haven’t had too much contact with them.”

Richer said SG could improve student relations by placing a larger emphasis on networking.

“If you can get people to network, and people who normally don’t talk to talk, and come out to other clubs’ big events, that’s huge,” she said.

McCoy and Kaul said they plan to resolve criticism aimed at SG in the future, along with the other administrative issues discussed at the meeting.

“The best way we can do this is by hearing it firsthand like we just did, from people who are outside of student government,” Kaul said. “I welcome students to come to us with things they care about. We try our best, and we will try harder, to make sure we do as much outreach to the student body as possible.”

Students can voice their concerns at the Student Government Office located at 775 Commonwealth Ave., or via SG’s Twitter account, Kaul said.

Kaul said she and her colleagues intend to “work in parallel,” tackling both their own problems with effectively communicating with students while implementing policies designed to demonstrate to the administration the strength and value of BU students.

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