The Student Association (SA) held their State of the SA address on Monday night to discuss the initiatives that have been implemented over the course of the 2018-19 academic year and the organization’s future goals.
Presented by Jerry Toussaint, president of the SA and a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, the address highlighted various projects completed this year by members of the SA Executive Board. Toussaint touted the accomplishments of his own office, which include participating in the search for the new University Police Department chief of police and taking an active role in providing more services to High Hopes Helpline, which recently changed its name to SEEK.
“My office has uplifted the voices of students to University administrators on issues such as transparency and parking,” Toussaint said.
In the 2018 SA election, Toussaint ran on a platform to improve transparency between the student body and the SA, off-campus safety and inclusion within the organization. He also pledged to continue space reallocation projects and reclaim the University Union for students, something he has accomplished through the Executive Vice President’s office, and planned renovations to the University Union basement, which will begin this summer.
However, his proposed interface for seeking student feedback and connecting with students outside the SA, BU Onward, has not materialized, and recently, there has been controversy regarding transparency from the SA. For the entirety of the fall semester, SA Congress failed to make meeting minutes accessible to students, violating their own management policies, and freshmen and transfer students at BU did not receive SA newsletters until March 1, preventing them from receiving announcements about SA elections and initiatives. Additionally, despite helping SEEK provide more services, the SA continues to see criticism about the lack of mental health resources on campus.
According to the address, Courtney Mitchell, vice president for programming and a junior majoring in computer science, contributed to 17 events with four more still to come, including Spring Fling, which will be headlined by Playboi Carti. Despite Mitchell’s campaign goal to extend communication between the students and the SA, many students were initially left confused over the cancellation of Fall Concert, featuring rapper 21 Savage, and whether or not they would be reimbursed when the event could not be rescheduled.
The address also listed the accomplishments of Andy Jean-Baptiste, vice president for multicultural affairs and a senior double-majoring in economics and philosophy, politics and law, which highlighted continued attempts at creating Grievance Procedure Guides and an Off Campus Cultural Food Network, two goals that Baptiste prioritized throughout his campaign.
According to the address, Doug Wehbe, vice president for academic affairs and a senior majoring in computer science, fulfilled his campaign promise of fashioning more opportunities for Harpur College students to receive high-demand technical skills with the introduction of three Harpur Crash Courses by working with the Harpur Dean’s Office and Harpur Edge. Kevin Darrell, vice president for finance and a senior double-majoring in accounting and mathematics, also fulfilled his promise to prioritize the issues within his office through the use of guides in which presidents and treasurers can learn how to fill out forms correctly for vouchers and approvals.
Imaane Carolina, an SA Congress representative for College-in-the-Woods and a sophomore majoring in systems science and industrial engineering, said she’s been happy with the communication in the SA throughout the year.
“They have updated us every week on what they were doing so we have seen them and have gotten updated on what they’re doing and how they’re doing it while they were asking us for any advice on which direction they could go in,” Carolina said. “I think that’s something that really stood out to me — that they really brought out the things that they actually accomplished and they involved everyone in it.”
Abigail Stark, an SA Congress representative for College-in-the-Woods and a freshman double-majoring in psychology and Spanish, said she felt the address lacked information.
“I think that they could have included more information,” Stark said. “I think they were trying to keep it brief for the sake of the length of this meeting but for people who aren’t part of the SA, if they were just to come to see the State of the SA address, I don’t think that they would know exactly what it is that we do. But other than that, in terms of efficiency, I think it was a fine presentation.”
As for the SA’s success over the past academic year, Carolina said she felt the initiatives they tackled were ones that future administrations should follow.
“I think the executive board for the 2018 to the 2019 year did a very great job and they really pushed a lot of initiatives that really mattered to students,” Carolina said. “I hope that for more years to come, others can be able to follow in their footsteps and keep pushing initiatives that they made this year to implement into the SA.”