By Anfani Lawal and Ellie Yeo
Boston University’s Undergraduate Student Government met Monday to elect committee chairs and discuss an act to address water quality around BU’s campus.
The meeting began with USG President Hafzat Akanni’s address, where she spoke about USG’s name change from Student Government to Undergraduate Student Government.
Akanni announced that a public ceremony for BU student Erin Edwards, who died in August, will be held on Monday at 5:30 p.m. at Marsh Chapel, followed by a reception in the Metcalf Ballroom at the George Sherman Union.
After the President’s Address, another round of cabinet chair conformations began, continuing from last Monday’s meeting.
Five cabinet chairs were voted in, with Lia Valdez, a junior senator in the College of Arts and Sciences, Savannah Majarwitz, a sophomore senator in CAS, Dania Haj-Darwish, a sophomore senator in CAS, Aditya Jain, a junior senator in the College of Engineering and Ellery Robinson, a senior senator in Wheelock College of Education and Human Development securing leading positions in their respective organizations.
Valdez ran for co-director of communications, citing her previous year serving in the same position experience for her reelection.
Majarwitz and Haj-Darwish ran as co-chairs for the Mental Health Committee, presenting plans to host the Mental Health Fair on Oct. 9 and the Minority Mental Health Peer Panel on Oct. 10.
Further plans were announced to make communicating with the Mental Health Committee simpler, and Marjarwitz said the committee will continue to work with Student Health Services and Behavioral Medicine to create an online portal to book counseling appointments, as students now have to call the office to do so.
“We’ve received a lot of feedback, actually at the minority panel last semester, saying it was very anxiety-inducing to have to call to make an appointment,” Marjarwitz said.
Jain ran for chair of FEAST, a committee focused on offering students healthier alternatives to food at BU that he chaired last year as well. Jain detailed FEAST’s efforts and successes in the 2018-2019 school year, including introducing spice racks, lactose free milk options and more vegetarian options to dining halls.
Robinson campaigned to be co-chair of 16,000 Strong, a campaign created to inform BU students about sexual assault and violence. Robinson plans to launch a number of programs during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, including self-defense classes led by the BUPD.
“I am personally really interested in incorporating healthy relationships into our workshops because I think,” Robinson said, “although of course consent is important, there are a lot of difficult relationships in colleges – and I think that’s a really important aspect to talk about.”
Jain and senior senator in ENG Jenna Saiontz then spoke about the Water Quality Act of 2019, a proposal that would investigate the quality of the pipes in 10 places on campus including residence halls and cafeterias.
Using water kits, volunteers would gauge the quality of the water and publish the results to the BU public, Jain and Saiontz said. Senators Saiontz and Jain found that the last openly-available results of BU’s water tests were conducted in 2011, before the Environmental Protection Agency updated their water regulations.
Saiontz and Jain asked the Senate for $229 to pay for the water kits and three to five weeks for the kits to be distributed around campus and for results to be returned.
Vice President of Finance Lukas Flores, a senior senator in the Questrom School of Business, said he thought the proposal would be a “waste of money.”
“I don’t think [the tests] would be able to tell us anything,” Flores said, “especially if they spread out to one test per location.”
Jain said the act wasn’t created to directly pinpoint the source of water problems, but to accurately point BU administration to potential weak spots in the water line.
“We want to find deviation,” Jain said. “If there’s deviation, that’s something that would require more detailed investigation. This isn’t meant to be a detailed investigation.”
The vote on the proposal was tabled for next week’s meeting.