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Union connects with area student leadership

The Boston University Student Union made it clear this weekend that it wants to develop and maintain relationships with student government organizations at local colleges.

At the first-ever Boston Area Intercollegiate Summit, the Union hosted members from Tufts University’s Community Union Senate and Bentley University’s Student Government Association on Saturday in the Consortia Room at the Student Activities Office.

The presidents of each school’s student advocacy body said continued collaboration with Boston schools would be helpful in spite of obvious disparities, such as student population size and location.

BU Union President Matt Seidel said he hoped Saturday’s conference marked the start of permanent partnerships not only between the schools present, but between many nearby higher education institutions.’

‘I’d like to declare this meeting as the beginning of a serious undertaking so the roots are there for a strong alliance,’ Seidel, a College of Arts and Sciences junior, said. ‘Intercollegiate connection has to be a priority.’

Discussion topics at the summit ranged from tuition hikes and the economy to dealing with administrators. It also included medical amnesty, internal structure and attendance problems.

Although the student leaders shared some specific concerns, other problems, such as BU students having trouble coordinating regular communication with the administration, were unique to each university.

Seidel said conversation at the conference inspired his own ideas for what Union can do to increase communication with the administration.

‘Now we have a model to base it off of,’ Seidel said. ‘We can say, ‘Well, Bentley and Tufts are doing it.”’ ‘

The summit allowed the schools to share issues, like medical amnesty, and compare strategies for dealing with those issues.

Bentley’s SGA President Teena Antony said she was excited to be introduced to the idea of a medical amnesty policy. SGA has not looked into the policy, but BU’s Union has been pushing for blanket amnesty.

‘I think that’s awesome that we are going to kind of piggyback and hopefully work to get that policy at Bentley and work with BU on that because they are doing a lot of the leg work,’ she said.

Despite the schools’ differences, the point of future collaboration is to apply what the other schools’ student governments have done rather than copy specific procedures, the student leaders said.

‘We are certainly different schools, but the advocacy issues that students have to go through are all the same,’ TCU Senate President Duncan Pickard, a Tufts junior, said after the meeting.

The three schools designated point people, all sophomores and freshman, to serve as liaisons between the groups and ensure that communication continues.

Saturday’s meeting was originally going to be held on the eighth floor in the School of Management building, but Seidel said BU Associate Provost Victor Coelho failed to book the room after promising to do so two months ago.

‘By next semester, you are going to see the administration treating [the conference] a whole lot differently if they start getting emails from Tufts, Bentley and other schools about this,’ Seidel said.

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