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StuGov confirms positions for next school year, introduces vaccine resource guide in last meeting of the semester

mental health committee co-chairs speak at a boston university student government meeting
Confirmation of Boston University Student Government’s Mental Health Committee Co-Chairs Monday. StuGov confirmed Senate, Cabinet and Judicial positions in its final meeting of the semester. HANNAH YOSHINAGA/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

In its final meeting of the semester, Boston University Student Government confirmed Senate, cabinet and judicial positions for next school year, discussed Google’s pricing model shift and introduced a COVID-19 vaccination resource guide.

The meeting started with the confirmations of the current Mental Health Committee co-chairs, College of Arts and Sciences juniors Hope Wei and Sen. Savannah Majarwitz. Both served as MHC co-chairs in the 2020-2021 school year.

“I really want to create a space where I can educate people,” Wei said, “as well as start a dialogue between students, faculty and staff surrounding mental health, mental illness and the stigma surrounding both those topics.”

Wei said she planned to achieve those goals through the Mental Health Fair, a detailed resource guide, the MHC website and more.

Majarwitz said she wanted to focus on dietary as well as eating disorder resources next school year.

“Currently at BU, the only eating resources that are offered to students are counseling at Behavioral Medicine or through the Sargent Choice Nutrition Center,” Majarwitz said. “We want to just make this a more prominent informational and service center at BU, where it’s its own department.”

The co-chairs also shared information about a proposal for professors to provide trigger and content warnings in classes.

Wei and Majarwitz were both confirmed as MHC co-chairs with 34 out of 39 votes in the affirmative.

StuGov’s following Senate confirmation was of 16,000 Strong co-chairs Annie Mayne, a sophomore in the College of Communication, and CAS sophomore MJ Atang, who both served as co-chairs during the 2020-2021 school year.

In the past year, Mayne and Atang partnered with CAS Student Government and the MHC, among other groups, to create a list of policies they want to see implemented. They are currently in communication with Provost Jean Morrison.

“My hope is that with education and community efforts, we can make this issue less prominent on campus,” Atang said, “input people with adequate resources if [something] unfortunate happens and create a safer campus for everyone.”

Both Mayne and Atang were confirmed as 16,000 Strong co-chairs with 34 votes out of 39 present.

The meeting continued with cabinet confirmations. Three of the confirmations — Director of City Affairs Ana Obergfell, Director of Communications Ting Wei Li and Director of Environmental Affairs Neha Chinwalla, all CAS juniors — were seeking reconfirmation after serving in those positions for the current school year.

“There is a learning curve to running a department on your own, to hiring staffers and to learning how to put on projects and work with administration, e-board and Senate,” Obergfell said. “I think that this year I’ve learned how to do a lot of those things, so next year if I was director of city affairs, I could hit the ground running.”

Obergfell said she looked forward to continuing Voter Tuesdays, which offer a run-down of community and political happenings, as well as maintaining a relationship with Boston Public Schools.

Other continuing directors expressed excitement to implement new initiatives and changes, such as growing StuGov’s social media presence through TikTok for the Department of Communications and expanding compost for the Department of Environmental Affairs.

Li was confirmed with 34 votes, Chinwalla with 32 votes and Obergfell with 30.

Cabinet directors were confirmed in Academic Affairs, Events, Recruitment and Social Advocacy departments. The newly confirmed directors said they looked to build on the ideas started this school year.

Academic Affairs Director and CAS sophomore Sydney Steger said she wanted to continue the use of liaisons in different colleges, and Events Director Izzy Watson, a sophomore in the Wheelock College of Education and Human Development, said she wanted to continue hosting TED events.

All proposed cabinet directors were confirmed by the Senate vote.

The meeting continued with the confirmation of associate justices: CAS juniors Samantha Casas and Ethan Wong, as well as CAS freshmen Ilana Keusch and Declan Donahue.

“I think that the justices in Student Government play a fundamentally important and unique role in our own variation of government,” Wong said, “and I’m excited to have the opportunity to join to further improve my abilities.”

Casas was confirmed with 33 votes, Keusch with 29, Wong with 27 and Donahue with 28.

After confirmations were completed, CAS junior Sen. Hessann Farooqi presented on Senate Resolution 20, in which he discussed Google’s new pricing model and pushed for StuGov’s condemnation of the change.

Last month, Google changed its pricing system to a storage-based pricing model. Given BU’s reliance on Google systems and storage, this shift would lead to an increase in cost to $900,000 for the University, which would be reflected in rising student tuition costs.

“This isn’t just about Google,” Farooqi said. “Understand that we’ve seen the cost of higher education go up and up and up year, after year, decade after decade.”

The resolution passed with 33 votes in the affirmative. Its passage will be sent to the University administration, who will use it in negotiations with Google.

The final resolution of the night was a proposal created by Vice Chair Shashi Shah, a CAS junior, for StuGov to share a student resource guide on getting vaccinated.

Shah said he was motivated by BU’s Fall vaccine requirement and the varying registration systems in every state.

“It’s a mess,” Shah said, “and it is difficult, even if you’re living within that state, to sort of figure out where you actually need to go to register for the vaccine, and there is no central resource guide that I have come across that any of the students can actually follow.”

Shah said he was looking into adding resources for international students, and he wanted to talk to administration to see if the guide could be added to the Healthway website.

The resolution passed with 28 votes in the affirmative.

The meeting concluded more than an hour over its usual length.

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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