Seven Questions for BU’s New Student Government President
Seven Questions for BU’s New Student Government President
Dhruv Kapadia (CAS’24) on Fight to BU’s victory and the platform’s first steps for next year
At last week’s Student Government election results dinner in the Trustee Ballroom, Dhruv Kapadia, next year’s student body president, refused to allow himself to get too excited. As much as he wanted to celebrate, his mind was already racing, thinking about the tasks ahead.
“I’m already thinking about what’s coming next, and making sure as soon as the team gets into office that we’re ready to go and work for BU students,” said Kapadia, who ran for president on the Fight to BU slate, after the dinner. “I fully empathize with the reality that BU Student Government has maybe not been the most legitimate organization in the past, has not done a great job of reaching out, and I want to say that my administration is going to work to address those issues and we’re going to make sure to get every single voice heard this academic year.”
Kapadia’s victory came on the heels of a tight election, with Fight to BU taking 51.5 percent of the vote against the opposing slate, BeYou, which earned 48.5 percent of the vote. At-Large parties IMPACT BU, the Unity and Social Quality Initiative, the Community Action Party, and the Center for Gender, Sexuality and Activism each received two seats in next year’s Senate. A little more than 25 percent of the student body voted this year, a notable increase from the 15 percent turnout in recent years.
BU Today spoke with Kapadia—who has a double major, in political science and economics, and is minoring in statistics on the prelaw track—about his platform, which he says centers around engaging with the city of Boston, empowering marginalized students, and prioritizing environmental sustainability.
With Dhruv Kapadia
BU Today: What was it about the Fight to BU platform that most resonated with voters?
Dhruv Kapadia: We ran on a platform of empowerment, the environment, and engagement. And engagement is what really stuck with voters. At the end of the day, all of our [initiatives] really revolve around making sure that Student Government is seen as an institution, which unfortunately hasn’t been the case in the past. We really want to make sure, unlike with previous administrations, that we are reaching out to every student, regardless of where they come from, economic status, racial background, cultural background, to make sure that all of their voices are heard. And I think that’s what really resonated and brought us such a diverse and large coalition that allowed us to get the majority that we needed.
BU Today: What do you view as your biggest challenge in the coming year?
Dhruv Kapadia: I think the reality of having a [BU] administration that has oftentimes, in my opinion, not fostered student-centered academic policy changes on campus. [Similar to] all institutions across the United States, it’s often students fighting for policy, and they’re being pushed back from administration—we’ve seen it time and time again. So I think this is not a unique obstacle that we’re going to face, but it’s an obstacle nonetheless.
Engaging students with their elected representatives is going to be another challenge. I know, having been involved in Student Government for two years, that there’s definitely an apprehension from students [about working] with Student Government, just because they often feel like we are an ineffective entity. So for that reason, it’s going to be two battles: one is going to be really making sure that we’re fighting for the change that we want to see from the administration, but also making sure that we are…bridging the gap to the student body.
BU Today: How do you plan to work with the BU administration?
Dhruv Kapadia: I think there’s a couple of ways we can do this. We want to make sure that when we do go to the administration we are not just coming as Student Government, [but rather] we’re coming with the full force of the student body. And for that reason over the coming weeks, we’re going to be meeting the student leaders of different groups on campus, including academic and cultural, and making sure that we are addressing the issues that they want to see. That way, when we do go to the BU administration, it’s not seen as just Student Government bringing up our own issues—it’s Student Government representing a broad coalition and representing their issues. At the end of the day, we’re not going to be able to know what we’re supposed to change without engaging students.
Navya [Kotturu (CAS’24), executive vice president of Fight to BU] and I already have a working relationship with administrators through our Student Government experience over the past two years. So we have a preexisting relationship, and we’re hoping to build on that between ourselves and administration.
BU Today: How often do you hope to meet with BU administrators?
Dhruv Kapadia: From my understanding, we’ll be meeting with John Battaglino [assistant dean and Student Activities Office director] once a week, and Dean Kenn Elmore (Wheelock’87) [associate provost and dean of students] once a month, and then three times a year with President Brown.
BU Today: And will you publicize as best as you can what comes out of these meetings?
Dhruv Kapadia: Yes, that is a big thing we want to have. So many students don’t even know that Student Government meets with these very important administrators and policymakers, so we want to be as transparent as possible. We’ll try to get a recording of the meetings out to students or meeting minutes when we send out our monthly emails to the undergraduate students.
BU Today: This year saw the best voting turnout for Student Government elections since 2019, with approximately 25 percent of students voting (turnout usually hovers at plus or minus 15 percent, according to the Daily Free Press ). Why do you think so many students voted this year?
Dhruv Kapadia: I think there was definitely an engagement of different communities on campus. Having been a part of the slate that is completely made up of people of color, I think that it definitely brought out a more diverse coalition of voters to come out and vote. I would also like to acknowledge that the other slate [BeYou] did a great job of campaigning and reaching out to their respective target demographics. Another reason I think we were able to edge over BeYou was just being able to get more first-time voters to come out, and by really acknowledging that Student Government is a student organization at the end of the day—we’re not superior to anyone else, we’re not more powerful. What we are is a vehicle for change. And I think going to students, whether it was in the dining hall or in the GSU, and having those honest conversations really incentivized people to come out and vote for us. Those are the biggest reasons why we were able to get 4,050 votes.
BU Today: How can students get involved with your administration?
Dhruv Kapadia: We are assembling our cabinet now. Application for our cabinet directors closed April 6. In each of those cabinets, there will be [open positions for] executive staffers and deputy directors who obviously are able to have their voices heard. Additionally, I would want to have students reach out to their college governments to see how they can get involved and get their voices heard on the college government level, because [their work] ultimately coincides with what the Student Government wants to get done.
And make sure you know your elected representatives.
Rusty Gorelick contributed reporting to this story.
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