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Campus Life

Meet Your Student Union

First meeting of the year tonight at 8 p.m.

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A student government is only as effective as its leaders. And so, says Student Union president Arthur Emma (CAS’11), this year’s leaders are determined to be a strong presence on campus, with a transparent and open administration.

Emma’s winning platform, RenewBU, promises to improve the BU Shuttle (the BUS), work to ensure medical amnesty for all students, and push for changes in the dining halls, like lowering the meal plan prices. The other Student Union leaders are Daniel Ellis (CAS’11), executive vice president, and Ben Noble (SMG’11), vice president of finance.

Last week their GSU Takeover, a semester kick-off party, with free food, music, and a dance party, attracted more than 4,000 students.

Since taking over, the RenewBU team has been busy restructuring and adding more opportunities for students to become involved by expanding the number of positions and committees. They took to the streets during the city’s annual Student Turnover Campaign, when Boston Mayor Thomas Menino (Hon.’01) and city officials walked around neighborhoods in Allston and Brighton to help students understand their rights as renters. The union leaders plan to post renters’ rights information online within the next month.

Emma and his team are now filling leadership positions; they are interviewing for the vice president of internal affairs, directors of committees, a creative team, and advocacy positions. “Every single position we have posted has had a ton of applicants,” Emma says. “We’re building up a really strong organization, and we’ll have the strongest leaders around.”

All BU students are invited to attend the Student Union’s first meeting of the semester, tonight at 8 p.m. in the College of Arts & Sciences, Room 326.

BU Today spoke with Emma about the union’s plans for the semester.

BU Today: What are your greatest challenges this year?
Emma: It’s really like we’re starting an organization, because we didn’t have that much to build on. Students have very high expectations of us. We want enthusiasm to stay on the incline, and we want to keep pressing forward.

How much power can a student union really have?
It sounds dorky, but we’ve been reading leadership books. I know that other administrations in the past have said, you need to do this, do that. Leadership should work to convince people to change their minds and be inclusive. It’s not direct power, but it is indirect power.

How do you plan to make the Student Union stronger?
This summer I commuted back and forth from Washington, D.C. I visited schools like George Washington University and American University. These schools have huge budgets for their student unions. I mean, George Washington has an entire floor just for the student union! They’re able to offer a lot more programming, a lot more allocating of resources. We want to make our union stronger.

Furthermore, budgets and allocations of resources are important, but when a student union is able to mobilize, everyone is aware of them. They have so many people involved in their elections. They should share concepts and different ideas as well. We just changed the name of the general assembly to the senate. Now we have committees too, such as the outreach committee and the event committee. We just want to talk to people and get out there.

We’ve moved our offices to the second floor of the GSU and all members of the Student Union leadership must serve office hours, so students can stop by at any point and talk to someone. Another way to become stronger is to partner with other student organizations on campus.

What other initiatives are you working on?
We’re starting a voter registration program called TurboVote. Students can sign up online or through the Dean of Students Office. All you have to do is go into the database and fill in simple information. We then email you about upcoming elections. We’ll even print out your form and send it to you. You fill it in, sign it, and we include a prestamped envelope. It’s as easy as Netflix.

What’s the agenda for tonight’s first meeting?
We’re going to introduce ourselves. In the past, the meetings have been boring, but we want to have music in the background, introduce members that we’ve chosen for directors, and unveil the class of 2014 banner. We want to talk about how we’re trying to rebuild the organization, and we need to have people signed up for different committees, and go over the constitution. We’re going to have senators sign up for office hours, so that students can talk to someone whenever they want.

The Student Union senate’s first meeting is tonight, September 13, at 8 p.m. in the College of Arts & Sciences, Room 326. All are invited to attend, but are asked to RSVP to union@bu.edu in case a bigger room is needed.

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter at @amlaskow.

1 Comments

One Comment on Meet Your Student Union

  • Val V. V. on 09.13.2010 at 9:43 am

    should the union do into faculty evaluation?

    The most important part of the students’ life is learning. There have been many new teaching techniques developed in other schools around the country and even the world. The question: should BU students be louder when classes are getting bigger and bigger but faculty teaches the same way as 50 years ago?

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