Community, Coronavirus, Features

University calls on students to help plan campus life in Fall

An unprecedented campus reopening process has pushed Boston University to develop a myriad of strategies for a smoother transition to Fall. Now, BU hopes to pick the brains of its own students to aid in molding next semester.

Boston University has launched The New Normal Challenge, which will allow students to contribute their ideas on reopening the University in the Fall. LAURYN ALLEN/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

This new program, The New Normal Challenge, will enable students to share their ideas to better students’ physical return to BU. The initiative launched Tuesday and is a collaboration with Innovate@BU, the Dean of Students Office, UMOJA: The Black Student Union and Student Government.

The LfA system plans to drastically change the way students and faculty interact with one another. However, The New Normal Challenge encourages students themselves to envision ways to improve other areas of campus life, such as student wellness, on-campus transport and social life.

StuGov President Oliver Pour, a rising junior in the College of Communication, said the program is meant to allow students a platform to showcase their entrepreneurial skills and brainstorm new traditions and events that will ultimately benefit the BU community.

“The undergraduate community is made up of students from all different parts of the world and with all different types of perspectives,” Pour said. “Them being able to bring their perspectives into fruition and turn their ideas into reality regarding all these different topics can be extremely helpful for the community.”

The challenge, which will kick off with a virtual event Tuesday, consists of two tracks: the Charles River Campus Ideas Track is open to BU undergraduates, and the Student Impact Track is open to all BU students. While ideas in the CRC Ideas Track will be reviewed by the Dean of Students Office on a rolling basis, submissions to the Student Impact Track will be subject to review by a judging panel.

The deadline for idea submissions is Aug. 15, after which 10 Student Impact finalists will be awarded with $500 seed grants for implementation and the opportunity to present their ideas virtually to the rest of the BU community.

Ahlea Isabella-Cochran, marketing and communications manager for Innovate@BU, wrote in an email the challenge was created for students to offer input during BU’s decision-making process and to solve problems that will affect the entire student body.

“It’s also a great opportunity for students to learn innovation skills that they haven’t used before,” Isabella-Cochran said, “and to start building a creative and entrepreneurial mindset that they can use in their careers and for future problem-solving.”

A student-geared workshop hub, Innovate@BU has hosted a variety of events centered around project conception and development. This program is its largest to date.

The program will lead multiple online seminars and brainstorming sessions throughout August hosted by student leaders, faculty and staff. During these online sessions, students will explore and actualize their ideas while learning to effectively market and communicate them.

Pour said these feedback discussions, as well as the Challenge Ideathon and Kick-off, will help students understand how to distinguish their concepts and how to move forward with their submission.

“As time goes on, you’ll be able to attend different workshops [and] an idea feedback session,” Pour said. “We will have a virtual showcase with some judges and the judges will choose from their own rubric.”

This rubric contains six categories of assessment, judging students’ ability to “Address the Challenge” and whether their “Idea has Impact,” among others.

UMOJA President Stephanie Tavares, a rising senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said the program gives students the chance to have a say in how the next year can play out.

“I think this gives students an opportunity and it’s a student-driven idea,” Tavares said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for us all to contribute some ideas about how the future could look for us.”

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