OneBU, Boston University Student Government’s 2020-2021 elected slate, has returned some of its platform promises such as networking resources and mental health care, and is working on doing more for the student body.
Its platform was designed to highlight community, health and professional development, and the OneBU Executive Board said it is striving to make its goals tangible despite pandemic-related setbacks this semester.
This Fall, StuGov has collaborated with [email protected] on The New Normal Challenge and the Community Impact Challenge, as part of its Build Yourself platform initiative, StuGov President Oliver Pour said. It also held its first Build Your Network event for students to connect with alumni, a direct platform promise.
Natalia Banos, a freshman in the Questrom School of Business, said she appreciates the professional development efforts, especially when it comes to networking during a pandemic.
“You can’t really go out and meet people in traditional ways, like out at lunch or on the streets,” Banos said. “New ways of helping students network and stuff, that would be really helpful.”
Pour said StuGov is emphasizing mental health this year through efforts to create more initiatives aimed at relieving stress and isolation.
“It’s not one of those things that there’s a clear-cut solution,” Pour said. “So, we’re trying to amplify the resources here on BU’s campus.”
The e-board is working to implement mental health projects, including “self-care Wednesdays” and a health blog connected to the StuGov website, Pour said. He said the team is also interested in connecting students with alumni through BU Connects and improving the professional development of students.
Nyah Jordan, StuGov vice president of internal affairs, is working with a BU mental health committee on creating the health blog, which had been an initial campaign promise on the slate’s platform.
The blog will run on the StuGov website, split into categories such as mental health, nutrition, college lifestyle and sexual awareness. It will also list all mental health resources that BU has available to students.
Banos said she believes StuGov’s mental health initiatives are important to focus on during this semester.
“I know I find myself questioning my mental health sometimes, like, ‘Oh, is this too overwhelming?’” Banos said. “But I do think it’s probably an issue for most of us.”
Pour said the e-board has instituted its other platform promise: “Out of Office, Office Hours” for student organizations. He added connecting student organizations with one another is a OneBU goal.
Jordan said engagement between student organizations has had its hiccups.
“Trying to gain interest for this, it has been a little more difficult,” Jordan said, “just because we are mostly living in a virtual reality right now.”
Jordan added she also wants to collaborate with non-student organizations to highlight the resources the University already has in its arsenal, such as Student Health Services’ Wellness Program Kits.
Pour said one of the biggest challenges for StuGov in committing to its initiatives is not having the opportunity to interact face-to-face with students. Many of those who join StuGov each year come from large in-person events, like SPLASH, and the momentum for this event has died down.
“If nobody’s showing up, then there’s no point,” Pour said.
Hayley Baron, a freshman in Questrom, said she wasn’t aware of most of StuGov’s initiatives for this school year, which she does not see as a good thing.
“Student government is supposed to represent us,” Baron said. “How can they represent us if a lot of us don’t know anything about them?”
Sen. Ezra Bale, a senior in COM, said the Senate is using its social media platforms to highlight what occurs during senate meetings. He added he keeps a blog detailing StuGov meetings and initiatives.
Pour said working with F— It Won’t Cut It to make “Hasan Saves Halloween” possible proved StuGov is capable of bringing the student body together. In the future, he added, StuGov might need to continue collaborating with clubs to get the word out about its events, including OneGala.
David Joseph, executive vice president of StuGov, said OneGala — which is scheduled for Spring and on the OneBU platform — will highlight student talent and other accomplishments in a virtual showcase.
Also on the docket for Spring, Joseph said, is to meet OneBU’s platform promise for the Underrepresented Students Week that will commemorate minority students at BU.
Joseph is also working on a personal initiative for OneBU centered around helping freshmen meet one another — an issue Jordan and Pour said needs addressing. He said he hopes to hold online courses or workshops, hosted by students, where attendees can engage over similar interests.
Despite the unique challenges of this semester, Joseph said the group has made plans and implemented goals without meeting in person.
“I’m incredibly proud of the work we put into our platform, how far we are so far and really, the future of it because we are doing more than just our platform,” Joseph said. “There’s a lot more initiatives that you can see we’re taking, and that was always the goal.”
Bale said communication among members of StuGov has improved because of COVID-19 circumstances.
“Because we’re so forced into being into this virtual environment,” Bale said, “we’re more likely to go and confront each other more directly about issues.”
Student feedback has been helpful this semester, Joseph said. He said students will often come to him with input that he later incorporates into StuGov’s goals and initiatives.
“It makes me happy when people are happy,” Joseph said. “I’m really trying to make sure that the job we do as an e-board, or the job we do as each individual, we make sure we do it to the best of our abilities and that we really try and listen to student-body concerns and needs.”
Joseph recommended students visit StuGov office hours, which occur once a week. There, students can voice any concerns or check in with their campus representatives.
Baron said she thinks StuGov should work on creating more in-person events.
“Not a lot of people go on the online [events],” Baron said. “It’s harder to interact. If we could do safe activities outside, that would be fun.”
Jordan said she is working to create in-person initiatives for students, which include a Wellness Program Kits pickup.
Jordan said the e-board is interested in meeting all of its platform promises made on the campaign trail.
“Everything on our platform is on the way to being accomplished,” Jordan said. “There are tangible steps we’re taking. We’re continuing our plan in the Spring as well.”
Bale said he thinks StuGov should address the University administration’s habit to downplay the severity of issues the student body and faculty would like to see addressed, such as Learn from Anywhere.
“You can’t keep repressing the students and faculty like this,” Bale said, “when they are crying out for something that they need or giving an opinion on an issue, but you’re not allowing them to say it.”
Melissa Ellin contributed to the reporting of this article.