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StuGov talks Spring semester plans, approves Greek life action plan

In its last meeting of the semester on Monday night, Boston University Student Government discussed whether to denounce Kappa Sigma for painting over the transgender flag on the BU Rock during Transgender Day of Remembrance. LAURYN ALLEN/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Boston University Student Government heard from several senators about plans for Spring semester, including how to increase student engagement, in a meeting streamed live to YouTube Monday night. It also discussed whether to take action against Kappa Sigma for painting over the transgender flag on the BU Rock during the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Senate Vice Chair Shashi Shah updated StuGov on the Senate’s plan to better connect with the student body next semester through town halls and StuGov newsletters. 

Academic Affairs Director Arthan Bhatt updated StuGov on initiatives for each college he and his team planned to work on in Spring, which included an alternative to London for College of General Studies students, more transparency in advising for the College of Communication and the College of Arts and Sciences, and a new interdisciplinary program for the College of Fine Arts.

Bhatt said the University denied the Credit No-Credit policy because of the way a “credit” designation might harm graduate school admissions, the unique circumstances surrounding Spring 2020 and the administration’s confidence in Learn from Anywhere.

City Affairs Director Ana Obergfell said she planned to continue her work discussing the college admissions process with Boston Public Schools in conjunction with Boston Intercollegiate Government. 

Other updates included a TEDxBU salon license, the creation of a compost initiative and a partnership with Jeopardy! National College Championship to include BU.

The majority of the meeting was spent discussing StuGov’s reaction to Kappa Sigma pledges painting over the trans flag on TDOR.

Sens. Evan Teplensky and Savannah Majarwitz proposed a resolution to denounce Kappa Sigma’s activity and create an action plan to deal with transphobia in fraternities and sororities through training. 

President Oliver Pour voiced his support for the action plan and said he thinks training is necessary for Greek life.

Some senators raised concerns over whether the motion was specific enough, including Sen. Samantha Casas.

“We’re holding fraternities and sororities to a standard that we don’t quite know what it is yet,” Casas said, “or whether or not sororities and fraternities are already doing this.”

Casas also said she wanted the resolution to be long-lasting, so the action plan “lives and succeeds on its own, not just for the 2021 school year.”

Sen. Ezra Bale said he was in favor of the resolution. 

“I am appalled that this is the position we are in right now to discuss this serious of a topic,” Bale said. “This is absolutely disappointing and frankly, it is borderline disgusting.”

The Senate voted, and the motion failed. However, the Senate had lost three voting members from the start of the meeting, and Teplensky said multiple senators texted him saying their WiFi cut out as the vote occurred. 

The Senate agreed to create a new meeting so they could vote again on the topic. 

“Under normal procedure I would not be allowing something like this,” Senate Chair Vincent D’Amato said. “But this is 2020. This is Zoom. Not everyone has the same internet, so I’m allowing this on the basis of the fact that everyone’s internet was not working.”

At the new meeting, 34 senators were in attendance. Discussion on the bill reconvened with speaker CAS freshman Nico McMahon, who painted the rock with the trans flag.

“We need to be acting and not simply being performative,” McMahon said. “It’s a bill such as this that would be … the least that we can do to make trans students on this campus feel safe and included.”

StuGov introduced amendments to the resolution that mandated Pour, the Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council meet with StuGov by Jan. 25 to discuss training. 

The Senate also chose to split the bill between the measure of denouncing Kappa Sigma’s actions and the action plan, which Majarwitz called “performative.” The motion to denounce the actions of Kappa Sigma passed with 25 votes, and the motion to pass the action plan passed with 27 votes.

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