Student Union Opens ‘Windows’ of Debate
New forum will set community priorities
The Boston University Student Union has created an impressive list of accomplishments since September, including reconstructing its Web site, helping to bring down the cost of textbooks, and holding a campus-wide alcohol safety education program.
Now, says Brooke Feldman (CAS’08, SED’08), Student Union president, her organization will step up its service to the BU community by fostering dialogue about student concerns through its new Windows on BU forum.
Sexual health at BU is the topic of the first forum, which will take place during the Student Union General Assembly meeting on Monday, January 29, at 8:15 p.m. in Room 210 of the Photonics Center. The Student Union is putting together a panel of health-care professionals for the forum.
“Each meeting, we will be focusing on a specific aspect of undergraduate life, wrestle with the nuances of the issues, propose solutions, and at the conclusion of the discussions, draft policy papers that will be posted publicly on our Web site” and presented to the University administration, Feldman says. “We will use these documents to help inform the administration and the community of the student perspective on issues of the undergraduate experience.”
The forum topics will be announced on the Student Union Web site before each meeting, and key administrators and student leaders will participate in the discussions. The forums “are a great way to examine internal and external issues,” says Mark DiCristofaro (COM’08), Student Union vice president.
The Student Union made great strides last semester, says Feldman, including a restructuring that has made it more efficient. The organization added five cabinet positions: secretaries of community affairs, public relations, and technology, as well as a programming council liaison and a historian. Two intern positions were also created, and every committee now has a chairperson. Because of these changes, Student Union membership has jumped by 200 percent. “We saw an incredible surge,” says DiCristofaro, “and for the first time, nonvoting members stepped up their involvement in the Union.”
Other initiatives last semester were the successful planning and execution of the first BU Leadership Conference, a campus-wide alcohol safety education program, and the reconstruction of the Student Union Web site. Feldman says that the organization’s Academics Committee worked with the University’s schools and colleges, as well as with Barnes & Noble at BU, to decrease the cost of textbooks. “Professors submitted their textbook requirements earlier this year,” she says, “so students were able to buy new and used books on such sites as half.com and amazon.com at a lower price.”
In addition, the Student Union’s School Spirit Committee launched a Terrier T contest to come up with a design for a T-shirt for fans at athletic events, Executive Board members promoted the wireless Internet accessibility at the BU Beach, and the Technology Committee is collaborating with the Office of Information Technology to finalize my.bu.edu, a customizable Web site specifically designed for BU students.
Other structural changes will mean no more long-drawn-out discussions on constitutional amendments at General Assembly meetings. “We created a task force to work with the constitution and our bylaws,” says Feldman. “This work will be done outside the General Assembly meetings and presented to our voting members individually to discuss with their respective constituencies, and the proposed changes will be voted on at the end of the semester.”
Feldman, who outlined the Student Union’s accomplishments and goals at a state-of-the-union address last month, says she wants to continue to give undergraduates a voice in improving student life. “This semester we’re working on a variety of initiatives regarding environmental sustainability at the University, transportation in the city of Boston, undergraduate life and spirit at BU, and improving the living, dining, social, and academic experiences of all our students,” she says. “I want to see competitive union elections that produce a strong, enthusiastic new executive board this spring, ready to build upon the legacy and foundation my team has set forth.”