In their Tuesday night meeting, the Student Assembly (SA) representatives discussed what they classified as two issues facing Boston College students: mental health and dining and food insecurity.
“Our presentation to the Board of Trustees went really well—a lot of great questions asked by members about advising and what that looks like for our students,” said UGBC Vice President Julia Spagnola.
Spagnola, MCAS ’23, said she and UGBC President Lubens Benjamin, CSOM ’23, spoke with the Board of Trustees about creating a safer space for students to talk about their mental health with both academic advisors and their professors. The SA suggested working on the creation of a system to allow students to miss class without penalty for mental health reasons.
“I reached out to [University Counseling Services] about consolidating our mental health resources into an accessible format on the Agora Portal,” said Ryan Milligan, a freshman class SA representative. “So that all resources—whether that be [a] website, links, or phone numbers—would be put in one place.”
The SA later debated the fairness of BC’s dining hall plans as well as perceived shrinking portion sizes. Junior class SA representative Jake Kauffman, CSOM ’24, proposed a survey to collect data on how many students are dealing with BC Dining–related food insecurity.
“The issue now is inflation,” Kauffman said. “It is really hard to address these issues when we don’t have data.”
Community Relations Chair Josh Golden, MCAS ’25, said a survey would prepare the SA for eventual conversations with BC’s administration.
“I think they’re less likely to come up with these [counter] arguments if we can present them with a research group at a board meeting,” Golden said. “There’s a lot of counter arguments they could make, and we need reasons to prove them otherwise.”
Several members of the SA proposed hosting food drives for students to collect non-perishable items for the winter months as well as possibly urging BC Dining to switch from a credit-based to a swipe-based system.
Spagnola said in previous conversations BC Dining has rejected the possibility of creating a swipe-based system for several reasons, including sustainability and concerns about profits.
“There was conversation about a switch to the swipe-based system, and the issue of sustainability comes up because it’s not just a matter of what a student is taking but how much,” Spagnola said.
Administrators previously shot down the integration of a third-party business into BC Dining on account of salary discrepancies between employees, according to Spagnola.
“Someone who’s working in a dining hall is going to make or is going to receive the same benefits as an administrator,” Spagnola said. “It’s something that … the University is taking kind of as a mission. By preserving that mission you can’t have a student receiving these same benefits while they are working for a Chipotle.”
Correction 10/5/2022 9:40 a.m.: This article has been updated to reflect that both Benjamin and Spagnola met with the Board of Trustees and to properly attribute a quote to Milligan.