By Noor Adatia and Caroline Hitesman
Boston University Student Government approved a $2,073.50 budget Monday night to cover food costs for the second annual BUNITED conference, a daylong student-led conference that deals with issues of diversity.
The conference will be held on Feb. 18 in the Metcalf Ballroom of the George Sherman Union from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The conference will include workshops, keynote speakers and discussions, Victoria Agbelese, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and founder of the conference, said.
The university funded the conference, Agbelese said, but BU discontinued the funding this year because there was not enough money allocated for the event.
Agbelese said the purpose of the conference is to create an open space for students to discuss issues they don’t normally have the opportunity to discuss in the classroom.
“As a biology student, I don’t really get to talk about the election, women’s rights and things of that nature,” Agbelese said during the meeting. “We hope this brings us all together, and we can engage ourselves in a space that you can learn something you don’t normally learn about.”
The expected attendance for the conference is 150 people, Agbelese said. Topics covered will include policing in America, Islamophobia and women’s rights.
SG Senate Chair Dan Collins said he is excited to see SG allocating more of their money to student body’s initiatives.
“I loved the proposal by BUNITED,” Collins said after the meeting. “We have a lot of money left over so I’m trying to get as many people to come to Senate as possible. These are great initiatives. They take out a chunk of money and they go to good purposes.”
Senate also confirmed two cabinet positions: Chair of Student Affairs Senator Vaishnavi Kothapalli as director of outreach and Eva Jungreis as department director of communications.
“I thought the cabinet confirmations were both great choices,” Collins, a junior in CAS, said after the meeting. “I’ve had class with Eva before, and I think she’s a super great choice for communications. She’s really passionate and motivated.”
He said he felt similarly toward Kothapalli.
“She has been working really hard in senate,” Collins said. “I was super impressed with her as a committee chair and she’s going to do really well as her new cabinet department co-chair.”
In addition, the rules committee members presented edits to the bylaws of the SG constitution during the meeting.
Focused mainly on grammar and wording, some of the amendments included reducing the number of unexcused absences from four to two, dissolving ad hoc committees at the end of the academic year and changing “his” and “her” pronouns to “their.”
SG Executive President Jake Brewer, a senior in CAS, said he thought the meeting was productive.
“It went really well,” Brewer said after the meeting. “I’m glad BUNITED got their full funding. I’m excited about the rules committee changes, I think the attendance policy is really important. I think two days might be a little too strict but I’m glad to see that senators are starting to change things up a little bit.”
Several senators said they see BUNITED as an important conference for students.
Panhellenic Sen. Natasha Holden said BUNITED is very important for the community especially at this time.
“Even though it’s not necessarily a student organization, and they’re doing it more on their own. I think it’s important to expose the BU community to conversation like this,” Holden, a junior in CAS, said.
CAS Sen. Anuskha Pinto said this dialogue is important for students to have with one another.
“I think we need that kind of dialogue especially in light of the Trump presidency and what the presenter said especially about how she doesn’t get a chance to talk about these issues in her classroom,” said Pinto, a senior in CAS.
CAS Sen. Maya Reyes, a member of the rules committee, said she is looking forward to seeing greater changes within student government.
“I hope to see bigger changes take place in both the bylaws and the constitution,” Reyes, a sophomore in CAS, said. “Right now we’re going through the grammatical construction of the constitution, but hopefully bigger changes will be in place especially before the election.”