Boston University’s Student Government has and will continue to meet via Zoom until the end of the semester, despite the closure of campus preventing in-person meetings as the COVID-19 pandemic takes place.
Hafzat Akanni, president of SG and a senior at the College of Arts and Sciences, said in an interview with The Daily Free Press that Senate, along with the executive board and cabinet members, met for a three-hour virtual meeting Monday using Zoom. In that meeting, they decided to continue SG meetings throughout the semester to support the needs of students.
In the Monday meeting, Senate voted to pass the executive board’s “Financial Recommendation,” a proposal stating Senate donate funds that are not currently budgeted for specific projects to students who may need financial support during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We imagine that students are probably facing a lot of financial hardship with uprooting themselves and their lives,” Akanni said. “Some people can’t even get back to the states or fly home, so what we proposed on Monday was that the money in our account that is not budgeted, give that money to students.”
Senate will be voting next week to reallocate SG funds to students, having currently budgeted the money towards projects, which will not be completed due to campus closure, Akanni said.
Senate also heard from Evan Teplensky, a freshman senator in CAS, on his petition to include an optional pass or fail system for students who may want more flexible and accommodating grading as they transition to taking classes online.
In addition to the pass or fail petition, SG is looking into changing academic policies regarding attendance, assessments and deadlines in light of the new virtual academic platform, as well as uncertainty among students regarding travel plans and access to online tools.
Barrett Yueh, director of academic affairs and a sophomore in the College of Fine Arts, said in an interview with The Daily Free Press that she has been communicating with Kenneth Elmore, the dean of students, and other senior administrators concerning adaptations to remote learning.
“When universities make a commitment to continue with online classes,” Yueh said, “I think they should strive to make it as accessible as possible and try to be as fair as possible in the administration of these classes,”
Yueh said she hopes to support students in transition by enacting temporary suspensions of attendance policies, assignments and coursework requiring textbook access, as well as increasing leniency surrounding deadlines.
“I think everyone’s capacity for dealing with stress is drastically different from how we would deal with it during a normal semester,” Yueh said. “I think we are all just hoping to make some changes or put some measures in place that will protect students against anything too harmful to their GPAs.”
Yueh said SG agreed that continuing to meet and operate as representatives of the BU student body is in the best interest of the BU community as a whole.
“Everyone agreed we should continue meeting semi-regularly until the end of the semester just to figure out what’s going on,” Yueh said. “Especially right now, I think everyone is shaken by what’s happening and I think, at the very least, we’re just one more group of people you can talk to and commiserate with, because I think everyone needs that right now.”