By Ellie Yeo and Anfani Lawal
The Undergraduate Student Government passed the Water Quality Act of 2019 on Monday night, allowing a team of four senators to begin testing water quality at ten locations around campus. The government’s budget was also discussed at the meeting.
The initiative was inspired by a lack of public information about water quality on BU’s campus and a concern that BU does not conduct consistent tests of the water that comes through university pipes into student residences.
The act was originally proposed by Aditya Jain, a junior senator in the College of Engineering, on Sept. 31, but was tabled by the Senate for further deliberation. Discussion about the act resumed on Monday and several senators voiced positive opinions on its goals, emphasizing that water quality is an important yet overlooked element of student health on campus.
Jenna Saiontz, a junior senator in the College of Engineering and one of the original developers of the initiative, said that water quality at BU is also a matter of economic equality for students, since newer residences that are more expensive for students are also more likely to have newer, cleaner pipes.
Other senators pointed out the environmental benefits of testing water quality on campus, noting that, if students are well informed about BU water quality safety and improvements, they will be less incentivized to buy plastic water bottles on a daily basis.
David Gao, a freshman senator in Questrom School of Business, said he’s hesitant to drink the tap water on campus because he’s unsure of its quality.
“I feel like getting it checked would make it better,” Gao said, “and instead of going to buy water bottles, I can just drink tap water from my bathroom.”
During the discussion surrounding the act, senators noted the inconvenience that many BU students face by not having filtered water bottle filling stations on their floors.
Cristofer Barry, a junior at the College of Arts and Sciences and a Water Quality Act committee member, said that many of his constituents had expressed frustration with the lack of available filtered water sources on campus.
“We shouldn’t have to walk five minutes to a water filter,” Barry said, “or even leave your residence hall, just to get good water that you feel comfortable with.”
The act committee responded to these frustrations, noting that an ultimate goal of the Water Quality Act is to develop data about BU’s water quality in order to present to BU administration valid reasoning for more water filters in residences and more easily accessible clean water than is currently available on campus.
Jain clarified that the goal of the project is not to prove that water quality is poor throughout BU, but that there are significant differences in quality across different water sources on campus that should be addressed and equalized. The Water Quality Act of 2019 passed with seven objections and three abstentions.
Deputy Chief Justice Christian Vanleer, a junior senator in CAS, announced that the Student Activities Office has not yet provided a budget for the executive and judicial branches of student government, as well as Senate. He also confirmed that the Undergraduate Student Government will be receiving less funds this year than last year.
“[Vice President of Finance, Lukas Flores,] has been actively talking about ways to combat how much money we have no in regards to how much we had last year,” Vanleer said, “to figure out how to make sure that student government is still able to function at the same capacity with less money.”
Monday’s meeting also included an introduction to the Vice Chair Role Clarification By-Laws Amendment, spearheaded by Jain and Vincent D’Amato, a junior senator in Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. The proposal would amend the by-laws to include a section stating that the Senate Vice Chair “may not be a member of any branch of the Student Government, with the exception of staffer roles.”
This change would allow for more available positions in the Senate, which Jain and D’Amato hope will entice more members of the BU student body to join student government.
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