Campus, News

Student Government establishes senate seats for student groups

The Boston University Student Government Senate approved proposals Monday night establishing criteria to allow representation for student organizations as well as creating a grant system to fund student projects.

The Diversifying Senate Proposal requires that a student group be recognized by BU and have a membership of at least 2 percent of the student body, or 320 students, in order to gain a Senate seat.

The proposal was postponed in a previous Senate meeting due to concerns about representation of groups that did not meet the criteria. It passed this time with an amendment allowing for student consortium senators to earn a seat in the BU House of Representatives if they represented a coalition of student groups constituting 1 percent of the student body, or 160 students.

SG Executive Vice President Richa Kaul said she was “incredibly excited” that she and College of Arts and Sciences Sophomore Class President Tyler Fields passed the proposal. Fields was also elected Senate chair for the Fall 2014 semester at the meeting, defeating CAS junior Cassandra Shavney and College of General Studies freshman Anesha Jones.

“We just changed the way that Student Government operates by allowing student organizations and overarching bodies to have a seat in our voting Senate,” Kaul, a sophomore in CAS and president-elect, said. “That is so wonderful, progressive and definitely allows us to say that our values are in representing the student body and we are showing it as a Student Government by opening our doors for more representation in the place where we make decisions.”

The Senate also approved a proposal to allocate $3,000 to start a permanent grant system for undergraduate students to apply for support in startup and academic projects.

SG Director of Academic Affairs Salma Yehia, who presented the proposal, said she expected supplementary donations from BU college governments to total close to about $10,000.

Yehia, a CAS junior, said the grant system had an important distinction from proposals requesting SG funding.

“It’s institutionalizing the whole [funding] system, making sure that students know that the $40,000 Student Government has is there for them,” she said. “This has the potential to really change the way that students look at Student Government.”

A committee within the SG cabinet will be in charge of reviewing applications for funding. In addition, it will offer consultation sessions to help students refine and pursue their objectives.

“This is something that would empower the BU community,” Yehia said during the proposal. “Let’s make sure that students here who have these amazing ideas are able to utilize that Student Government money.”

The Senate also approved a proposal to allocate $100 for an awareness campaign advocating for improved safety on, and off, of BU’s campus.

The campaign aims to establish safe zones for students off campus by expanding BU Police Department safety escort services, remove charges to students for medical transportation and extend BU Shuttle services into off-campus locations including Allston and Kenmore.

“No student should be considering financial resources when they are determining life-saving care,” said Interfraternity Council Senator Jason Balsamo, who presented the proposal. “Some individuals, more so than others, are disproportionately affected by that cost.”

The money will go toward an advertisement on BU Shuttles describing the three tenets. SG Senators will also draft a petition and engage in a social media campaign for their goals.

Balsamo, a senior in CAS and the College of Communication, said he hoped the awareness campaign would spark a dialogue with BU President Robert Brown and the Board of Trustees about the issues.

“I hope in that conversation we can start taking constructive steps with the university toward advocating for our students’ interests on and off campus, and hopefully providing a better community, a safer community,” Balsamo said.

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