Boston University Student Government passed two resolutions, confirmed two committee chairs and held the swearing-in ceremony for the 2020-2021 executive board in their penultimate Senate meeting via Zoom Monday night.
SG President Hafzat Akanni, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, began the meeting with a farewell message to senators, reflecting on student government’s progress this academic year and stating hopes for the future.
“I personally don’t think it’s going to be easier next year,” Akkani said, citing the coronavirus outbreak and Senate’s growing prominence on campus as reasons for a more complicated coming year. “Always understand that you have a purpose, and as hard and tiring as things may get, understanding the bigger picture should be something that keeps you going.”
Senate voted to renew the Emergency Powers Resolution, originally enacted for 30 days during a meeting on March 31. The resolution stipulates that Senate may, in times of emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic, override bylaws and regulations to ensure maximum efficiency of the procedure.
Senate also voted to pass amendment proposals to restructure the Judicial Advisory Commission, presented by JAC representative Benjamin Klein, a freshman in CAS. The amendments included an expansion of the role of JAC to conduct research on SG issues and proceedings, as well as to present advisory reports to Senate that provide judicial insight on proceedings.
Klein also said the JAC hopes to remove current restrictions that only permit one appointed JAC representative per year, switching to multiple formal and informal representatives across multiple years and schools. He said he hopes this amendment will encourage more students to get involved with the SG judicial committee.
“[Lowering these restrictions] makes the JAC representative and staffing positions more welcoming to students who might be dissuaded by the current limit of one representative per year,” Klein said. “This might spark more interest in the department as a whole and allow us to expand research initiatives and cover more ground.”
Senators confirmed Brianna Cole, a sophomore in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, as chair of the Rules Committee, and re-elected Savannah Majarwitz and Dania Haj-Darwish, both sophomores in CAS, as co-chairs of the Mental Health Committee.
Cole has spent her first year in SG as a member of the Rules Committee, which was formed this year by Vincent D’Amato, a junior in Sargent, managing and revising SG’s constitution and bylaws. Cole said she is passionate about Senate’s ruling documents and believes a strong and comprehensive constitution will enable a better experience for BU students.
“I look forward to the chance to continue the Rules Committee’s work in the coming year fixing inconsistencies,” Cole said, “and working with [the SG judicial branch] to make sure that we have the best documents we can to properly create legislation to help our constituents have the best experience they can at BU.”
D’Amato, founder and current chair of the Rules Committee, endorsed Cole for the position.
“I support [Cole] for the Rules Committee, she’s been there since the beginning of the year,” D’Amato said. “I think she knows her stuff, and I think she’s going to continue doing great work next year.”
After her re-election, Majarwitz said she is proud of the Mental Health Committee’s work this year and is looking forward to future opportunities and events.
“I’ve got to do a lot of the work that I wanted to do in terms of talking about the stigma that surrounds mental health, as well as creating new events and working on different policies,” Majarwitz said. “I’m really just hoping to continue the work that I’ve done this year into next year.”
Majarwitz said future plans for the Mental Health Committee include an insurance and health care information panel for students to ask questions and learn about BU’s insurance policies, and also hear from representatives from major insurance providers.
Akanni closed the meeting by holding a virtual swearing-in ceremony for 2020-2021 SG Executive Board OneBU.
The ceremony would have ordinarily entailed the current executive board handing pins to their respective replacements, but to accommodate the online platform, Akanni instead read through the ceremony instructions. She also led next year’s SG president Oliver Pour, a sophomore in the College of General Studies, through the presidential oath.
“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of the president of Boston University student government,” Pour said. “I will be a voice of the student body, and will advocate for the wellbeing of every undergraduate student on the campus of Boston University.”
The new executive board will officially take office on May 19.