Students Against Silence
by Yasmin Younis
GRAPHIC COURTESY OF BU STUDENT GOVERNMENT
The new year brings major changes to Boston University’s Student Government and constitution with the creation and implementation of the Constitutional Task Force.
Last semester, Kimberly Barzola and Marwa Sayed, formerly Vice President of Finance and Vice President of Internal Affairs, respectively, were impeached by the Senate on the grounds that they failed to fulfill their duties.
Many students were outraged by the accusations against Barzola and Sayed, voicing their opinions during the impeachment hearing on November 9, 2015.
While members of the student body shared opinions from both sides, the Senate voted 26-13 for Sayed’s removal and 37-2 for Barzola’s removal. The Senate found the charges against Barzola and Sayed justifiable for impeachment—the first and only impeachment in BU Student Government’s history.
As a result, a coalition of students formed BU Students Against Silence to challenge the Senate’s decision, because they firmly believed the student body’s voice was truly not being heard nor represented.
After Senate meetings, discussions and demonstrations, both the Student Government and BU Students Against Silence established the Constitutional Task Force. The task force is a committee of students dedicated to rewriting the Student Government’s constitution to ensure fairer representation in future Senates and promise progress, a welcome change in the eyes of many students. Its first meeting was Monday, January 25.
“There is no doubt in my mind that change… will come from this committee,” Senate Vice Chair Dan Collins (CAS ’18) said. “The only question is how much. There is a huge window of opportunity here and much to do in only five more meetings.”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEPHEN VOCATURO
“[The Constitutional Task Force] collectively agreed to entirely re-write the constitution,” the BU Students Against Silence Facebook page said. “This is a promising first step to an equitable and representative government at BU.”
Although members of the task force agreed to rewrite the Constitution, not everyone was entirely satisfied.
“[Monday’s] meeting was not as productive as I would have liked,” Jake Brewer (CAS ’17), a member of the Constitutional Task Force, said. “I think a lot of people are there to run for the Executive Board… and the same people were talking over and over and kept saying the same things over and over.”
Collins also agreed. He saw immense passion and interest within all members of the task force, yet “hoped for a larger quantity of input from different sources.”
The first meeting served as the opening of an entirely new system to try to evolve the student government. Task force members believe that as the meetings continue there will be more structure.
The Constitutional Task Force addresses equal representation and democracy on campus, more transparency between the Administration and Student Government and expansion of the Student Government’s budget.
“The nature of the task force makes it almost impossible to NOT fix the current representational system because this is the first time we have individual, non-student government members directly involved in editing a constitution that tailors to their needs as students,” Collins said.
However, issues such as transparency will take a lot of work because there are specific clauses within Student Government bylaws, which state what Student Government is able to discuss and what Student Government is unable to discuss.
Members agree that the only way for the task force to be truly successful is to accurately represent the wants and needs of the student body. That success depends on BU students’ active engagement by attending any and all meetings they can.
“There are four more meetings and I encourage everyone who is reading this to join and lend their voice,” Collins said.