Northeastern Votes

 
northeastern_votes.jpg

The primary role of Elections Committee is to serve as an unbiased, guiding body in any and all aspects of the Student Body Direct Elections. To do so, the Committee works tirelessly each week to revise the Student Government’s governing documents in an effort to improve the elections process. However, this year’s Committee began with an initial focus on civic engagement beyond our Boston bubble, hence: Northeastern Votes.This coalition of clubs on campus was established nearly a decade ago with the intent to increase voter registration and education of the United States electoral process. The initiative had a large presence on campus in the fall 2016 semester in correspondence with the 2016 Presidential Election, and what was then spearheaded by past SGA President Elliot Horen, has since fallen under the responsibility of the Elections Committee. The reality of local elections meant lighter work for Northeastern Votes, but upholding its mission was still just as critical.

A large number of students at Northeastern are, in fact, registered to vote, and many of them practiced this right in the events of the last election cycle. For this reason, it was the occasional unregistered voter that the Committee aimed to target - the students who were previously ineligible or unsure of how to register, for example. To reach this demographic, the Committee maintained a consistent on-campus presence with weekly tabling throughout September and into October, leading up to the Massachusetts voter registration deadline of October 18th, 2017. Volunteers used the website neu.turbovote.org, which offers students simple directions on how to register in their home state or in Massachusetts. The Northeastern Votes table was also stocked with Massachusetts polling location information, mail-in registration forms, and Northeastern Votes swag.

Current Elections Chair, Kathleen Ballard, notes, “I anticipate that Northeastern Votes will continue to be a reliable proponent of civic engagement here on campus. It is possible in the future to streamline this event even more, taking publicity to social media thus increasing our accessibility to students.”

 

Campus Safety Dialogue

 
stud_services.png

The Campus Safety Dialogue is a monthly meeting between Northeastern students and NUPD to discuss all aspects of campus safety from recent events to residence hall life. This initiative is critical, as it creates an open dialogue between students and their concerns to the senior members of NUPD who can either respond on the spot or get back to them within a week. This was an important initiative as it used to much harder to get a response from NUPD regarding issues relevant to the day to day life of students. Now it is much easier because students are now able to ask questions and get answers in an appropriate time frame. Another reason this initiative is necessary is that it allows students to give feedback to NUPD to ensure that every student feels safe on campus.

The long process of implementing the Campus Safety Dialogue was initially spearheaded by the former Vice President for Student Services and current Executive Vice President Paulina Ruiz. EVP Ruiz started this process by first reaching out to NUPD early in the spring of 2017 to try to set up a meeting with Deputy Chief Galindo to discuss the initiative. Eventually, Deputy Chief Galindo and EVP Ruiz decided on the name and agreed to move forward on a temporary basis for the rest of the school year in 2017. When the current Vice President for Student Services, Sahil Kadakia, began his tenure in May, it was his role to ensure that this became a permanent meeting that took place every month. Since then, he has been successful in implementing this initiative throughout the fall 2017 semester. This will have an impact on all members of the Northeastern Community, as every student should feel safe on this campus. As attendance at these meetings increases, it will allow this Student Government to improve its advocacy for students as it relates to public safety.

Kadakia writes, “Personally, I believe that Campus Safety Dialogue is one of the important aspects of my role as VP of Student Services. I believe that this has the potential to help the Northeastern Community feel safer on campus and help students voice their concerns. NUPD would love to see more students attend Campus Safety Dialogue and have a conversation about aspects of campus safety that are concerning to them so NUPD can help make them feel safe. To me, this is one of my most impactful aspects of my role and I cannot wait to see what how it grows during my time as Vice President of Student Services. If you have any questions regarding this or when we meet, please reach out to me via email at Kadakia.s@husky.neu.edu.”

 

Block pARTy

 
block_party.png

block pARTy was a daylong event celebrating student artwork on campus. SGA partnered with over 20 art groups to give them space in Curry throughout the day on October 17, 2017 to table, host workshops, perform, and recruit new members. This event was critical because it allowed the Student Government to spread awareness about some of the incredible student art groups on campus, whose work far too often does not get the recognition it deserves.

The idea of having a daylong celebration of student arts groups has been thrown around in the Student Affairs Committee for a few years now. Last year, former Vice President for Student Affairs, Alex Bender, launched a project group dedicated to making this idea a reality. The Committee began by reaching out to every student art group on campus to gauge interest in the idea, and then it made an official proposal for the event and booked spaces. Throughout the summer, current Vice President for Student Affairs, Nathan Hostert, reached out to all student arts groups again to finalize the list of partner groups. In the weeks leading up to the event, Hostert worked with the Center for Student Involvement and Event Management to make sure the event ran smoothly. He also maintained communication with the partner groups to organize logistics, publicized the event on social media and through RAs, and ordered pizza!

block pARTy is by no means a solution to the various challenges that art groups face. However, it is a great first step towards ensuring that these groups get the recognition that they deserve. The goal is to make this an annual event, so Hostert is compiling feedback on how SGA could make block pARTy even better for 2018 and beyond.

Hostert notes, “Looking forward, my hope is that SGA can continue to partner with the hundreds of amazing student organizations on campus to amplify their voices and address their concerns. I am incredibly proud of how this event came together, and I look forward to seeing the Second Annual block pARTy in 2018!”

 

Indigenous People's Day

On Monday, October 2nd, 2017, SGA’s Senate passed a Sense of the Senate that urges the University to change its observance of Columbus Day to that of Indigenous People’s Day. The legislation was drafted and presented by President Suchira Sharma. These are her thoughts on the initiative:

“I believe in a University community that's unified by action. When I see Northeastern in the news being given awards for their commitment to diversity, I’m filled with pride. When I see an email from President Aoun establishing his commitment to make our campus more inclusive, I’m hopeful for our future students feeling a sense of belonging on our campus. I felt like it was time to match Northeastern’s policy and longstanding commitment to be thought-leaders on diversity and inclusion, into the practice of our University observances. By making a simple change in the Undergraduate Calendar for the following academic years, Northeastern has the opportunity to send a strong message that it values history, diversity, and community. Indigenous People ought to be celebrated on our campus. This day ought to be for them. I worked for two years with the Social Justice Resource Center where I learned that Northeastern is filled with passionate change makers who believe that our University’s nature of being a work in progress serves as an incredible potential and catalyst for change. To me, this legislation represents a small change that the university could make to ensure that campus is more inclusive of the students that it serves. I owe a lot of inspiration to previous Program Director Shaya Poku from the SJRC who taught me that empowering others, means empowering ourselves, and I felt empowered as a student of color to raise my voice when I felt as though there was an opportunity for Northeastern to do more.

I think there’s a lot of pressure being the sole author on a piece of legislation. You’re worried that there’s only one set of eyes on something. Your worried whether you’re the best person to be representative of an entire concept or idea. There was a lot of doubt that I had going into the drafting of the legislation. I assuaged these doubts by working closely with campus centers like the SJRC, as well as my Cabinet to ensure that the language and the messaging was consistent with the goals of the legislation. I believe in a bimodal method of leadership — lines of communication ought to be open to foster constructive dialogue. So when I presented this legislation, I had senators come up to me after with thoughts. That dialogue was so valuable — it showed me that not only did students outside of myself care about this, but that the potential and effects of this legislation could go further for students than I had imagined. As a person of color, I had mixed feelings presenting this legislation. I think there are still systems in place in society, that while not intentionally, create structures of power in which it’s hard or intimidating for someone of a different background to feel confident to engage in. I definitely felt that way, but I believe that the only progress comes through change. As your Student Body President, it’s my responsibility to seek change in policies that eliminate those barriers so that there’s equity for all students.

Now that the legislation has passed, I’ll be meeting with the Office of Student Affairs to get a sense of the timeline of the change’s adoption into the University Calendar. From my understanding, next year’s calendar has yet to be printed, so I’d love for the adoption of the change to be as early as next year.

Share your support of the passed legislation! Write to the Office of Student Affairs! Contact myself if you’d like to come to a meeting to discuss its implementation further. My dream would be to not only enact a calendar change of the observance of the day, but work with existing campus offices like the new Center for Intercultural Engagement to create constructive, University sponsored programming on what the actions of Columbus, and colonialism means for a 21st century, diverse, university community. I’d like to end by saying one thing — I believe in skeptical optimism. I believe in the power of Northeastern to be a force for good in the world. But at the same time, I remain skeptical in believing that our Northeastern is a model for society in its present state. To put simply: I believe that Northeastern can do more for its students. That has guided this, and all actions I take in fulfilling my role as your student body president, advocating for you.”

Student Leadership Access Awards

 
SLAA Website 2.png

In the fall of 2016, SGA’s Cabinet reviewed the Association’s process for recognizing outstanding students at Northeastern. Prior to that semester, SGA ran an initiative called the I AM A HUSKY Award. This consisted of a monthly publication to SGA’s website that highlighted an undergraduate student who exhibited qualities that exemplified what it meant to be a Husky. The publication was accompanied by brief recognition on SGA’s social media platforms.

The Cabinet believed that this award was insufficient in fully recognizing a few of our many incredible student leaders on campus. Thus, in the fall of 2016, SGA partnered with the Office of Alumni Relations to roll out a new initiative called the Student Leadership Access Awards (SLAA). This new, student driven, campus focused system involves an application period to be announced by SGA, followed by a vetting process in which the Cabinet selects ten students per semester who exemplify leadership at Northeastern. Students may nominate themselves or their peers during the application period, which typically occurs in
November for the fall semester and in March for the spring semester. Following the vetting process, these ten students are notified of their selection and are featured on SGA’s website and social media platforms. Furthermore, they each receive a $500 cash award as SGA’s way of giving back to students who
contribute so much to this university community.

SLAA serves to promote students who may not necessarily be regularly recognized for their immense contributions to our campus, although all eligible students are encouraged to apply! In order to be eligible, nominees must be enrolled as full-time, undergraduate students at Northeastern. They may not serve on a student group executive board that offers them stipends for their service. Current members of SGA or past members of SGA’s Cabinet are also not eligible. Check out our social media and website each semester for
announcements regarding SLAA.

For more information, please reach out to us by email at sga@neu.edu or on social media @NortheasternSGA.

 

Trayless Dining

 

In the summer of 2016, SGA partnered with RSA to implement the Trayless Dining Initiative. The goal was to make Northeastern a more sustainable and environmentally friendly campus. Studies have shown that removing trays from dining halls can reduce food waste in excess of 30%. When representatives from the two student groups pitched the idea to Northeastern Dining, they were met with excitement and support. The next appropriate step was to garner student feedback to determine whether or not students would support this initiative.

Thus, members of SGA and RSA surveyed hundreds of students in the dining halls during the spring of 2017. The results from these surveys heavily suggested that the majority of students were in favor of removing trays from the dining halls. This information was presented to Northeastern Dining, and their support behind this initiative immediately led to action. The summer of 2017 was spent producing promotional materials for the initiative to be officially rolled out in the fall of that year. A pilot program was implemented in the International Village Dining Hall during the summer Orientation sessions. The program is now fully implemented as of September 2017.

This initiative highlights SGA’s past and continued dedication to improving Northeastern’s sustainable practices. If you have questions, comments, or recommendations on this initiative, please reach out to us!

Email us at traylessNU@gmail.com.

 

Title IX Policy Change

Our Title IX Policy is more transparent and trauma-informed.

 
Title-IX-image.jpg
 
 

In the Fall of 2014, a group of dedicated student organizers came together with a simple ask: to make the determination process for survivors of sexual assault more trauma-informed.

After three years of advocating for policy changes and collaborating with change-seeking administrators, organizers, and students, we are delighted to announce that the old hearing process has been replaced with an investigative model. 

The process from which these changes came was, like most worthwhile endeavors, long and challenging. The Sexual Assault Response Coalition, the Office for Gender Equity and Compliance, and the Student Government Association worked together throughout the course of a year, heard the perspectives of students and university members, and put forth the policy changes detailed below.

These changes can be found in Appendix A of the Title IX Policy and will go into effect for the Fall 2017 Semester, on September 6th, 2017.

We are proud of the work of so many driven individuals and groups to make Northeastern a safer place for survivors of sexual violence. This is only the beginning. Every University ought to transparently prioritize the safety and well-being of its students in its policies -- we are committed to working towards this at Northeastern.