News, On Campus

SA Passes Bills on Mental Health Survey and Virtual Participation in SA Meetings

The Student Assembly (SA) of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College passed two bills on Wednesday. The first initiated a student interest survey on mental health days at BC, and the second allowed virtual participation in SA meetings for members in quarantine.

SA Representatives Caroline Brewster, MCAS ’24, and Thompson Penn, CSOM ’25, proposed the bill introducing a “Mental Health Care Day Interest Form” to launch mental health reform at BC. 

“This survey is just to help us have quantitative data when we’re going to advocate and collaborate with administration to show [that] although the mental health crisis is kind of an intangible thing … there’s also quantitative aspects of that,” Brewster said. 

The survey will be composed of a series of multiple choice questions asking students if they would find mental health days beneficial. The idea was inspired by surveys at Northeastern University and University of Massachusetts Lowell, which, according to Brewster, have seen “huge success.”

“We don’t really know what the system is going to look like, but this is what we want to advocate for, because a universal mental health care day—like one single day—does not do the thing it’s supposed to do,” Brewster said.

Some SA members asked how the school would know when students are using mental health days, but since the bill is only in its initial stages, Brewster said they would discuss it later with administrators. 

“We’re trying to advocate for this and we need your support,” Brewster said. “We want to include [students] on this, but we don’t know what that system is going to look like yet.”

Penn said the bill is intended to simply to put the survey out there now but that nothing is set in stone yet. 

“This allows us to gauge people’s interest,” Penn said. “It’s not like saying, ‘this is what the format’s going to be,’ because obviously there’s a lot more steps than that.”

Some SA members proposed a few amendments to the wording of certain survey questions, such as adding a question about students’ perception of the availability of University Counseling Services to students. 

Members voted unanimously to pass the bill. 

Dennis Wieboldt, community relations committee chair and MCAS ’22, proposed a bill to allow people who have COVID-19 and cannot attend SA meetings physically to participate virtually. For this meeting, two SA members were participating on Zoom. 

“There’s no reason that people who have asymptomatic COVID cases and want to participate in the SA meetings should be prevented from doing that,” Wieboldt said.

The bill passed with 18 votes in favor and two votes in opposition.

Featured Image by Nicole Vagra / Heights Editor

February 20, 2022