By Varun Goyal, deputy news editor
This semester, the Student Government Association (SGA) at Northeastern has been working on several initiatives aimed at improving the university for students, faculty and staff.
According to SGA President and senior information science and business administration major, Eric Tyler, the main initiatives the association is working on this year are campaigning for the addition of more gender-neutral bathrooms and creating a Gender Resource Center, as well as working with the new Social Impact Council, the Fight for $15 movement and adjunct faculty.
“We’re trying to represent the student voices,” Tyler said. “We’re trying to facilitate a conversation between administration and students.”
According to Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Marina Macomber, she and the SGA have been trying to look for more opportunities to create all-gender bathrooms. Last year, the gender-neutral bathroom referendum was passed by a majority of over 84 percent of students.
“We were pleased to be able to add 40 new all-gender bathrooms to the facilities over the summer,” she said.
This now brings the total amount of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus to 109.
“Gender-neutral bathrooms provide a private place where [transgender students] can use the facilities without worrying about harassment,” Tyler said.
Another implementation the SGA is working toward is the creation of a Gender Resource Center, along with the Sexual Assault Response Campaign (SARC).
Currently, Northeastern has the the Violence Support, Intervention and Outreach Network (ViSION) to assist survivors of sexual assault. However, the Gender Resource Center would be a physical location where people can find support.
The center was a ballot item that passed by over 80 percent last spring.
In that same referendum, students voted to divest from fossil fuels, a social issue that eventually led to the emergence of the Social Impact Council.
“After divest was passed last year through the student referendum, SGA and referendum authors formed a subcommittee,” Tyler said. “Every school that looked at the question very seriously has some sort of council similar to the Social Impact Council, where students can bring social impact questions and say, ‘What do we at the university believe?’”
Interim Dean of the College of Arts, Media and Design Bruce Ronkin and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Madeleine Estabrook are co-chairs of the committee.
“The purpose of the council is to provide a forum for Northeastern University students, faculty and staff to provide information and advice to the university’s senior leadership on any matter having social impact,” Ronkin said in an email to The News. “The council gives a voice to the university community as Northeastern’s leaders form institutional policies.”
The SGA is also involved in the university Fight for $15 movement, which wants to raise the minimum wage on campus to $15. According to Tyler, the SGA is helping spark conversation between the administration and Fight for $15.
“They’re looking at the situation we’re currently in and are evaluating,” he said. “It’s very much based on university circumstances and financial situations of the university.”
This semester, the SGA has been working with the administration and the Empower Adjuncts Community Coalition (EACC) to try to increase the salary and benefits of the adjunct faculty, passing a motion asking the administration to bargain in good faith with the adjuncts.
Finally, the SGA is trying to implement more methods of communication and engagement with the student body through two programs: SGA ambassadors and a program inviting students to give feedback on their colleges.
“We’re just trying to have people understand who the Senate is,” Tyler said. “We want to hear what’s going on in campus, so we can work to fix any problems that come up.”
Photo by Scotty Schenck