Boston University Student Government voted on a bill regarding Senate positions, resolutions in support of library workers and free laundry in a Zoom meeting Monday night.
Senators created a resolution on library workplace accommodations after reading an article about BU Libraries’ staff — some were denied full accommodations and forced to work in person this semester, despite health risks.
Jason Prentice, a senior lecturer in the College of Arts and Sciences Writing Program, spoke in the meeting about the circumstances for library staff who refused to work in person. They would have to take paid leave, followed by unpaid leave, then lose their jobs thereafter, he said.
“The understanding is that they’ve resigned their position,” Prentice said.
He said the decision is not necessary because the workers involved are mostly those who would not be interacting with students or involved in the residential experience at BU.
“For the most part, these aren’t staff necessarily that you would even deal with when you go to the library,” Prentice said. “They don’t need to be on campus.”
George Boag, president of the United Auto Workers Local 2324 Union, said many librarians filed grievances but the “grievance process is a long one.”
“One of the reasons they announced this just before the break [was] because we wouldn’t have time to respond contractually,” Boag said at the meeting. “You folks would be doing us a great service by endorsing this.”
The resolution proposed action through boycotting face-to-face contact with library staff, avoiding library workspaces and posting a petition on official StuGov platforms demanding all workplace accommodations from the Fall be offered again in the Spring.
Junior CAS Sen. Savannah Majarwitz shared other ways in which students could take action: sharing the petition on social media, taking the COVID-19 University Oversight Committee library survey and emailing University Librarian K. Matthew Dames to protest the policy.
The resolution passed with 35 out of 41 votes in the affirmative.
The meeting continued with the introduction of Senate Resolution 16, which is StuGov’s endorsement of free laundry on campus — a campaign launched by BU’s Young Democratic Socialists of America.
The endorsement would involve posting YDSA-provided graphics on various platforms, including Twitter, Instagram and in an email to the student body. Members from YDSA would also form a committee with the administration.
However, senators expressed concern over the potential of a tuition or housing cost increase.
“I don’t want tuitions to go up,” Junior ENG Sen. Shirin Bakre said. “[New York University] does have free laundry, but they have a much higher housing price than we do.”
YDSA president and CAS senior Anthony Buono said a hike in housing costs would be specifically opposed by the committee.
“How can we assure that tuitions won’t go up?” Buono said. “That will be built into the agreement the committee comes to.”
Buono cited BU’s high credit rating as one way of ensuring tuition will not increase because of free laundry.
“That high amount of liquidity and that difference between revenue and what they’re saving should be pushed back into the students,” Buono said.
The resolution passed with 29 votes in the affirmative.
The final topic on the agenda was Bill 001, which was proposed last week by Senate Chair Vincent D’Amato, a senior in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.
D’Amato proposed edits to the bill from the previous week to remove the position of press secretary so the Senate could “work on and clarify the language.”
He also proposed a change that would allow the Senate Chair to have the ability to appoint multiple “chiefs of staff” who would not have any voting powers in the Senate.
The bill also sought to restrict the eligibility requirements for Senate Chair to current legislative branch members — a decision which some senators opposed in last week’s meeting.
“I will always object any sort of motion or amendment that restricts people from participating in student government in any capacity,” said Sen. Shaina Evans, a CAS junior.
Junior CAS Sen. Jessica Zheng spoke about the process of Senate chair elections and said it should be sufficient to “weed out” candidates instead of using a bill.
“The process for selecting a Senate Chair is very rigorous,” Zheng said. “Using a bill to do that would be more harmful than it would be beneficial to Senate.”
The bill passed with 31 votes in the affirmative.
Abbigale Shi, editorial page editor of The Daily Free Press, is a Student Government Environmental Affairs cabinet staffer. She was not involved in the editing of this article.
Juncheng Quan, staff writer of The Daily Free Press, is a Student Government CAS Senator. He was not involved in the editing or reporting of this article.
Ilana Keusch, staff writer of The Daily Free Press, is a Student Government Associate Justice. She was not involved in the editing or reporting of this article.