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BU StuGov, BIG to host Boston mayoral forum, focus on issues affecting students

Boston mayoral candidates Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George at the African Meeting House in Beacon Hill Oct. 23. Boston University Student Government is hosting a mayoral forum Friday at the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground in partnership with the Boston Intercollegiate Government. MOHAN GE/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Boston University Student Government is hosting a mayoral student forum Friday from 7-8 p.m. at the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground, allowing students the chance to ask questions to candidates Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu. 

BU StuGov is partnering with Boston Intercollegiate Government — a non-partisan, student-led governance organization made up of Boston area colleges — and received the support of the Howard Thurman Center and the BU Initiative on Cities, a center focused on urban related research and teaching, to organize the event. 

Essaibi George is set to take the stage first, followed by Wu. Each will have 30 minutes to respond to questions. Students can submit questions online via the BU StuGov website, as no questions will be taken live from the audience. 

The event is expected to have 150 in-person attendees, with close to 40 from BIG’s partner institutions. In-person participants are asked to register online. A live stream will also be available for anyone to attend virtually, and a recording and photos of the forum will be uploaded at a later date. 

Tara Heneghan, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and the mayoral forum project manager in StuGov’s City Affairs department, said she hopes the event will lead to a higher youth voter turnout in the upcoming election, which has historically been low. 

“We want to encourage BU students as well as students in the Boston area to engage more in politics,” Heneghan said. “A lot of these issues impact students either directly or indirectly.”

Gabriela Ramirez, a junior in CAS, deputy director of City Affairs and one of the forum’s moderators, said the event will focus on issues concerning students in the hopes that this format will allow for less adversarial politics between the candidates. 

“I think the benefit of having a town hall discussion is that we really get to engage with each candidate,” Ramirez said. “You get to have a conversation with them that feels very authentic.”

Hessann Farooqi, vice president of StuGov, a moderator of the forum and a senior in CAS, said broad issues affecting college students, such as climate change and the dining scene in Boston, will likely be the focus of the night. 

“When it comes to climate change, people our age will be the most affected by the worst effects of climate change,” he noted. “It’s important that the candidates understand the urgency of this issue, and that students are able to come away with a concrete understanding of what specifically a city can do.”

Dennis Wieboldt, a senior at Boston College and the Chairman of the Boston Intercollegiate Government, said because of the large percentage of college students living and working in the city, it is important to test how both candidates will engage with them.

“I am interested to see how both of the candidates plan to engage these young people more because there is such a wealth of human capital and student capital in the city,” he said. 

Aidan Yagoobi, a freshman in CAS, said the city’s public transportation system could use improvement. 

“It gets really cumbersome to take the T especially when it’s packed and it breaks down sometimes,” he said. “It’s not very reliable.” 

Yagoobi added that while he is eligible to vote in this election, he will only do so if he has the time to research the candidates. 

“It’s not really a number one priority for me right now,” he said. 

Farooqi added relevant issues that will likely be discussed include making college tuition more affordable and providing post-graduation employment incentives in the city. 

Tianxiong Wang, a graduate student in the Metropolitan College, noted the lack of job opportunities for computer science students like himself in the city. 

“If I want to have a good career in the future, I do not think Boston can help me,” Wang said. 

While doors open at 6 p.m., Henegan said in-person attendees are encouraged to arrive by 6:30 p.m. at the latest. 

Polls will be open on Election Day, Tuesday Nov. 2, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.. 


Updated 11/2 to correctly separate the Howard Thurman Center from the BU Initiative on Cities. 

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