By Lindsay Shachnow and Sydney Topf
Fight 2 BU, re-elected to serve on the 2023-24 Boston University Student Government executive board, hopes to bring knowledge, legitimacy and continuity into their second year, aiming to fulfill high expectations set by their freshman term.
President Dhruv Kapadia, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said the student government slate has taken part in both “passive and active” initiatives on campus this year, including supporting unionization efforts, overseeing the community service fee and hosting community service events.
As StuGov President, Kapadia said his role is to “serve as the liaison between the student body and the administration.”
“We want students to know that we are a resource that is available to them,” Kapadia said. “We’re a powerful resource that is heard by administration and is taken seriously by the administration.”
Kapadia said his reaction to last year’s election was one of “joy” and “excitement.” This year, he said winning was different, evoking feelings of “relief, ” and was “rewarding.”
“We felt like the work that we’ve done over the course of last year has resonated with voters and has resonated with the student body,” he said. “We’re just excited to keep the work going.”
The way student government was viewed by the student body in past years made it difficult to be seen as legitimate in the eyes of administrators, Kapadia said.
“This year, I would say things have changed,” he said. “We’re taken seriously by the leadership that make the decisions, so for that reason I think a lot more students are engaged with us and are taking us more seriously.”
Executive Vice President, Navya Kotturu, a junior in CAS and Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, said she feels nervous because Fight 2 BU’s success from this year created high expectations for next year.
“It’s a good kind of nervous that’s motivating,” Kotturu said. “I reran for a reason: I want to continue doing the work that we’ve been doing and really just making BU a better place for students.”
Kotturu said the slate’s biggest challenge was figuring out how to implement their initiatives.
“One of the biggest difficulties [was] just trying to figure out, earlier in the year, who I go to for what,” she said. “There’s definitely a lot of administrators on campus and they all do different things and sometimes they overlap and sometimes they don’t, and there’s always someone new to me and always someone new to work with.”
Kotturu said she hopes to continue working in sexual assault prevention next year because there is a lot of miscommunication amongst campus advocates.
“There’s a lot of incredible students and faculty staff groups on campus that tackle [sexual assault prevention], but no one is ever in the same room at the same time, which is really unfortunate,” Kotturu said. “My goal for next year is to really fix that [miscommunication] and bring everyone together in the same room, both administrators [and] students.”
Upon entering college, Vice President of Internal Affairs Laney Broussard, a junior in the College of Communication, said she knew she wanted to get involved with student government because of her experience serving as class president in her high school.
“I wanted to leave a legacy behind that didn’t just include me,” she said. “This past year, it’s been such a moving and inspirational thing for me to see different students who come up to us, who feel safe enough to tell us … the ways that they think BU can improve and for us to be the vessel for that to actually happen.”
Broussard said she is excited to have another year to “build upon the foundation already set and hit the ground running.”
“My whole goal next year is really to make this a place where people can feel like they can enter in and actually make tangible change,” she said. “This year, we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses way better and we’re able to work together as a team.”
Vice President of Finance Lauren Kong, a sophomore in SAR, wrote in an email that while she felt “inadequate” holding her position as a sophomore, and that she is excited to continue working with the same team.
“[My team] helped guide me to find my footing within student government and especially the branch leadership,” Kong wrote. “I really appreciated how understanding they always are with me.”
Kong wrote that next year she plans to “communicate more with student organizations that typically do not interact with student government” in order to create more open communication on campus.
“I would like to make it more clear to students outside of student government how they can request funding from student government should they need any,” she wrote. “I would like for student government to be approachable and a resource that students can rely on at BU.”
Jason Campbell-Foster, interim associate provost and dean of students, said he meets monthly with Kapadia to find ways to work together and improve student life on campus.
Campbell-Foster said there is always an opportunity for the executive board to connect and that their communication was “pretty open.”
“This group has been really incredible to work with,” Campbell-Foster said. “They’ve done a great job with listening to the students, elevating their concerns to the administration and then understanding how the University works and how to create change within that environment.”
Campbell-Foster said StuGov and the Dean’s Office had a lot of successes working together this year, specifically highlighting the opening of the LGBTQIA+ Student Resource Center.
The LGBTQIA+ Student Resource Center, announced on Feb. 23 by University Provost and Chief Academic Officer Jean Morrison, was “thanks in large measure to the efforts and advocacy” of LGBTQIA+ Boston University Student Task Force and will “be a destination and home for students and will offer programming, dialogues, intersectional community building, and other resources,” Morrison wrote.
“The role that they played in elevating [the LGBTQIA+ Student Resource Center] here at the University was very, very noteworthy and will be part of their legacy,” Campbell-Foster said. “I think that is something that they absolutely should be very, very proud of.”
The Dean’s Office also worked with Fight 2 BU early on in their term to figure out ways to strengthen StuGov’s influence and recommendations in administrative decisions, Campbell-Foster said.
“We wanted to hear from student government, ‘how do you think we should allocate [the community service fee],’ so we opened up the doors for student government to provide a recommendation for us as we sit and consider next year’s fiscal budget,” he said.
The University has not announced a new dean of students yet, but announced a search committee on Oct. 27. Unless replaced, Campbell-Foster will be working with Fight 2 BU again next year in the same position.
“By having a slate re-elected, we have the opportunity to continue our conversations, to keep the work going, to continue to push forward with the momentum that we’ve had this past year,” Campbell-Foster said. “They have a strong understanding of the University and who the key players are and so I think it’s best for everybody.”
Kapadia said Fight 2 BU’s platform of “continuity, communication and culture” will guide the group’s plans going into next year.
“Ultimately, we really just want to continue a lot of the work that we’re doing — continue building those relationships with administration, continuing outreach to the student body,” he said. “We ultimately want to prioritize more in-person tabling efforts and outreach efforts to get a better understanding of what the student body really does care about.”