On Campus, News

UGBC Senate Passes Bill to Introduce Messina College Senator in the Fall, Discusses Mental Health Days

The UGBC Senate passed a bill to introduce a new senator from the inaugural Messina College class this fall during its meeting on Tuesday night.

“We have this ran by the associate dean of Messina College to make sure our language is okay, and they approved and are really excited about having Messina integration in our Senate,” said Katie Garrigan, UGBC vice president-elect and MCAS ’25, said.  

The bill creates one special interest seat for a full-time freshman from Messina College for the 2024–2025 academic year. Garrigan said the legislation is a jumping-off point for UGBC’s relationship with Messina College and that she expects changes in it to occur once the position is filled.

“Obviously, this legislation is subject to change,” Garrigan said. “But that is hopefully going to be passed within our new Senate, so this is just for right now to get prepared for next year.”

Also during the meeting, the Senate discussed the possibility of providing mental health days for students. Student senator Andreas Pantazakos, MCAS ’24, brought up the difficulty of getting mental health–related absences excused.

“I feel like if you get sick, you get a note, that’s fine, but there’s no system in place if you’re having a bad day, you have anxiety,” Pantazakos said. “No one would get a day off—that would be an unexcused absence.”

Considering the prevalence of mental health issues on college campuses and in the world today, this policy should be re-evaluated, Pantazakos said.

“I feel like we should give students more of an avenue to feel comfortable to tell their professors, ‘Hey I’m having a bad day, I can’t come in, I’m having a really stressed out week,’” Pantazakos said.

Minnah Abdel-Naby, student senator and MCAS ’27, agreed with Pantazakos and added that the current policy undermines the seriousness of mental health issues.

“It’s saying that mental health isn’t as important as any other sickness, which shouldn’t be the case,” Abdel-Naby said. 

Cami Kulbieda, student senator and LSEHD ’26, noted that some students might be inclined to abuse allotted mental health days but that working with University Counseling Services (UCS) could pose a solution.

“If everyone is given two mental health days, somebody who just wants to sleep in might just say it, and some people do need it, and some people don’t,” Kulbieda said. “So I think the idea of potentially working with UCS to get some type of note, although it might be kind of frustrating and seem like an inconvenience, to an extent really does make sense.” 

At the end of the meeting, the Senate discussed the app GrubSwap, which allows students with excess meal plan money to pay for another student’s meal in exchange for a Venmo payment of 50 percent of the meal’s cost.

Colleen Blascik, first-generation student representative and MCAS ’27, said that although BC Dining might not like the concept, the app could help students with declining meal plan balances.

“BC Dining might be freaking out, but so are the students who can’t eat, who have no money leftover, so, I mean, it’s pretty valid,” Blascik said.

Lindsay Meier, environmental and sustainability policy coordinator and MCAS ’26, said she agreed the app poses benefits, but noted that BC Dining relies on students’ leftover meal plan for their budget, so the app could also cause prices to rise.

“I think that the problem is when we do things like this, it seems right at first, but there’s always gonna be consequences for actions,” Meier said. “And I see the consequences of this is that prices are going to be raised again.” 

April 17, 2024