This year’s Student Government elections pit two community-centered slates, Build BU and BUnited, against each other. The elected slate will become the executive board of SG and be the voice for the student body for the 2018-2019 academic year.
Both slates espouse on ideals of striving to engage with the BU community and increasing the visibility of SG on campus. They also seek to serve as a bridge between student groups and the Senate and promise to help struggling students find a place on campus. However, they have different approaches in how to go about accomplishing their goals. All in all, both slates have ambitious goals for how they will impact the student body. But ultimately, Build BU’s eager approach to engaging with the community and persistence in reaching out to different student groups earns our endorsement, despite the slate’s shortcomings.
While BUnited’s platform presents a series of concrete initiatives and strives to take on many issues, these programs do not seem feasible. In an effort to combat the overwhelming stress that is prevalent on campus — a noble cause and pressing issue — BUnited wants to increase the open hours at FitRec throughout the year as well as extending the hours at Mugar and at the dining halls on campus during midterms and finals. While those are ambitious goals that could help students, they are quite lofty, and probably too expensive to enact. In addition, increasing hours for the workers at these facilities, many of whom are are BU students, is complicated when the staff is already stretched thin. Other SG slates have not been able to make these sorts of changes, which could be due in part to the fact that running facilities like this costs a lot money and requires a substantial amount of resources that the university would have to be willing to commit to.
Build BU’s personable approach is a selling factor that makes them stand out from the crowd, or at least from past SG e-boards. SG is notorious for failing to implement actual change for students or improving student life in a productive and tangible way. Perhaps the solution is then to address issues affecting students on campus, and field responses from students on how they’d like to see change rather than waiting for students to come to SG.
Access to mental health resources is a huge problem on campus. While BUnited seeks to address this by extending hours at the library and the gym, Build BU wants to work on creating a bigger conversation around the issue on campus and reaching out to professionals for help, which is a refreshing idea. Slate members are students as well, who also feel overwhelmed by work. In general, the slate seems more self-aware of the biggest issues affecting the BU community, including the financial burdens placed on students and the struggles of first-generation college students.
We can’t ignore the significance of having a black student body executive president at BU, which would be the role of College of Arts and Sciences junior Devin Harvin. In a year when black student group Umoja is planning to hold its own graduation meant solely for black BU students ceremony in May, this could be crucial for earning the trust and engagement from minority student groups and clubs. Black representation on campus is important, as these students are often marginalized and feel voiceless within the university.
On the other hand, BUnited’s stance on community engagement is primarily focused on easing the transition process for both transfer and international students. Members of the slate can attest to their experiences of not feeling welcomed or supported by BU when they arrived as transfers. The members added they wanted all groups on campus to feel welcome, but there’s a sense in which this outlook doesn’t seem to take on the issues that affect the larger BU community.
Even though none of Build BU’s candidates currently serve as a position on Student Government, they all have experiences that have given them the chance to be a part of and interact with the BU community. It seems as though each member on the slate provides a fresh and different perspective. Hafzat Akanni, who is running for executive vice president, works on SAO and served on the RHC. Hector Meneses, who is running for vice president of finance, comes with previous experience in Student Government. They are familiar with the BU community and are passionate about improving it.
SG is a broken institution, with many students on campus unaware that there is this resource on campus for them to take advantage of. Build BU has been able to reach out to and speak to more than 50 student groups during campaigning. Their energy in engaging with students and informing them of this resource has not gone unnoticed. New faces can make for a better, more energetic e-board and could potentially result in avoiding the similar unproductive pattern SG has had in the past. We can only hope this e-board not only continues this passion and zeal that has been a hallmark of their campaign, but that they can pass effective initiatives based on it.
Correction: A previous version of this editorial listed Hector Meneses as running for the position of president. It should list him as the vice president of the finance. The current version reflects that change.