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StuGov confirms new chairs, funding for Mental Health Committee website

mhc funding request presentation during boston university student government meeting
Boston University Student Government approved a Mental Health Committee funding request and confirmed two new chairs in its Monday meeting. HANNAH YOSHINAGA/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Boston University Student Government confirmed a new Senate Chair for the next school year, a funding request for the Events Committee and a Mental Health Committee website as well as a Representation Oversight Committee co-chair in a Zoom meeting Monday night.

College of Arts and Sciences junior Shashi Shah served as vice chair in the Senate this past year and was the only candidate for Senate chair for the upcoming school year.

As Senate chair, Shah said he wanted to focus on adjusting the structures of Student Government so he could “set up Senate as an institution with a clear mission and operating system.”

Shah advocated for a change in how the Senate deals with issues that emerge at BU and said it should take a more active role — being on the look-out for problems that arise rather than waiting for students to bring them to the Senate.

“We need to switch our focus from being reactive to all of the issues on campus,” he said. “We need to also start focusing on being extremely proactive in what we do.”

Shah also noted the importance of outreach as part of his platform, citing it as one major aspect he learned from his time as vice chair.

“The unfortunate reality is that of the 17,000 students, most of them don’t really know what Senate is or don’t know what we do,” Shah said, “and that’s something that we really need to change.”

Shah said he planned to reach out to student organizations through emails and office hours.

“[Shah] has gone out of his way to get in contact with administrators, he’s persistent and he strives for success not only for himself, but for those around him,” said Student Body President Oliver Pour, a junior in the College of Communication.

Shah was confirmed as the 2021-2022 Senate chair with 36 votes out of 40 senators present.

The meeting continued with a $300 funding request from the Mental Health Committee for a new website.

The website would be hosted on Squarespace, which charges $12 a month. The $300 allotment would cover two years of costs related to the website, which would showcase a “how-to” guide on booking Behavioral Medicine appointments at Student Health Services, as well as free therapy services and support groups.

CAS junior Sen. Savannah Majarwitz, who represented the MHC as its co-chair, said these resources could allow students to seek therapy more easily.

“Therapy is very daunting if you realize you need help, and it just helps to have all that information spelled out as much as possible,” she said, “to make it less scary and see if that’s the right move for you.”

The funding request was approved with 32 votes in the affirmative out of 40 present.

Senators introduced two pieces of new business after Open Forum: Representation Oversight Committee co-chair confirmations and a Department of Events funding request.

The ROC was introduced two weeks ago as a means to oversee the representation of different student groups in StuGov, and it was confirmed in a vote last week.

The first ROC co-chair candidate voted on was Adam Shamsi, a freshman in CAS and Kilachand Honors College.

“My goals are to make sure every student feels heard,” Shamsi said, “and that they have their voice represented in Student Government.”

He said he hopes the ROC’s mission to increase student representation on the BU Board of Trustees will be expanded in the future, as well as to investigate ways to better minority representation “in the highest-paid administrative offices” at BU.

Shamsi was confirmed as an ROC co-chair with 29 votes in the affirmative out of 40 present.

Sen. Jessica Zheng, a junior in CAS, was the other co-chair candidate and one of the senators who proposed the ROC to StuGov.

“My main goal is just for every student here at BU to be represented in the way that they can be, in the way that they want to be represented,” Zheng said, “while balancing the respect that we have for future generations to come.”

Zheng was confirmed as ROC co-chair with 33 votes in the affirmative out of 40 present.

The last item added to the agenda was a Department of Events funding request. Department Co-Directors Thomas Rigal, a senior in the Questrom School of Business, and Maria Abood, a junior in CAS, requested funding for an event with trauma author Jessi Beyer.

Rigal cited poor student socialization and heightened screen time as motivators for holding the event, stating it would be “a good outlet for [students] to voice what they’ve been going through and to kind of help each other out.”

The event would be a talk followed by a Q&A session between Beyer and the students. Beyer’s book would also be distributed to attendees, as would a booklet, created by Beyer and StuGov, of mental health resources.

The funding request passed with 22 votes in the affirmative out of 40 present.

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.


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