For eight decades, the Boston University Student Government (formally known as Student Union) has served as the university-wide undergraduate student government at Boston University. The Student Government has evolved tremendously during that time to meet the changing needs of our student body. Yet, from its origin as a council combining students and administrators to the current all-student advocacy body, Student Government has always sought to connect student leaders throughout Boston University to advocate for the needs of the student body.
The origin of the Student Government can be traced back to the founding of the Boston University Student Congress (USC) in 1930. Unlike the current Student Government, USC officials included students, faculty, and administrators. By bringing these diverse leaders together, the USC provided the first opportunity for students to act as partners in the governance of Boston University.
The USC served the student body for decades, but eventually the demands on student government changed. During the 1960s, students sought more autonomy to explore the issues that they deemed important. Students felt a growing need to advocate for their own needs in all aspects of their collegiate experience without administrative restraints. In light of this increased need for autonomy, the USC transitioned into an entirely student-run government. This new student government, named the Student Government, began operations in the Spring of 1969. For the next thirty-five years, the Student Government combined advocacy, funding and programming in one organization solely run by the student body.
At the turn of the new millennium, the demands on student government changed again. Students demanded a more responsive, dynamic, and effective student government that could serve the needs of students in the digital age. In order to meet these demands, Student Union officials decided to focus solely on advocacy. This transformation began in 2004, when the funding and programing branches of Student Government separated into the independent Allocations Board and Programming Council. This transformation was completed in Spring 2011, with the ratification of the current constitution and the finalization of a new structure for student government in the digital age.
While the structure of Student Government has changed throughout the decades, its purpose is the same as it always has been. Students have continually looked to Student Government as a forum to meet and discuss the needs of the student body, and then advocate solutions to those needs. The Student Government has led student initiatives that caused major change in the Boston University community, such as advocating for better funding for student life in the 1970s or campaigning for a fairer guest policy in more recent years. Student Government has also sponsored smaller initiatives to improve the every day life of students, including advocating for more electrical outlets for laptops throughout campus and negotiating a less restrictive drinks policy for Mugar Library. As diverse as the many Student Government initiatives have been over the years, they all have one thing in common: they are all the product of passionate students hoping to serve their peers by improving Boston University. As long as students are passionate about improving Boston University and willing to serve their fellow students, the Student Government will continue to empower them to do so.
A Look Into Our Past
|Fall 1930||Founding: BU USC||The Boston University Student Government is founded in its first incarnation as the Boston University Student Congress. The Congress was composed of a cuncil of students, faculty, and administration. The Student Congress stood as a succecful arbiter of conflict and expression of student voice.|
|Spring 1969||Transition: BU Student Government||The Student Congress is replaced by the Student Government, a student-only body. The executive board, referred as the Joint Council of the Student Government, consists of a president, vice-president, five secretaries (Cultural Affairs, Student Life, Community Affairs, Academic Affairs, and Financial Affairs) and the presidents of all the college governments. With the constitution ratified, the first election is held between two slates, with more than 5,000 students voting.|
|Spring 1970||An Exciting First Year||The Student Government asks for an increase in the Student Activity Fee (what is now referred to as the Undergraduate Student Fee) from $2.50 to $11.00. The increase passes by a large majority and the Union budget grows to $146,000 dollars, estimated to be about $800,000 by today’s standards. With the extra money, the Student Government funds many projects and publications, such as The News and The Daily Free Press.|
|Spring 1970||The Daily Free Press Founded||The Daily Free Press is founded, funded as a special project of the Student Government|
|Fall 1970||A Turbulent Second Semester||The Student Government focuses on administrative changes during the Fall 1970 semester. However, after a riot breaks out between police and protesters in November, twenty students are jailed. The Union organizes a campus-wide strike to free the students and rehire a fired professor, among other demands. Nearly 7,000 students participate in the strike, and as a result the original protestors are released on parole.|
|Fall 1971||Quarrels with Silber over the USF||Boston University President John Silber removes the Student Activity Fee (now the Undergraduate Student Fee) from the Student Government budget, leaving the Government with no funds. After a referendum, the student body asks for the Student Government to control the Student Activity Fee. President Silber does not comply, but suggests voluntary collection of the Student Activity Fee.|
|Fall 1977||Recreating The Student Government||The Student Government becomes a student group through the Student Activities Office, and evolves into the form it will maintain until 2004. The Student Government consists of 3 branches and 2 special bodies, including what will eventually become the Programming Council and the Allocations Board.|
|Fall 1989||Guest Policy Protests||The Student Government organizes a protest in Marsh Plaza against the University’s dormitory guest policy, which allows no guests after 11pm and no study extensions for guests. The protest fails to remove the guest policy, but the policy is revised to give students more freedom with having guests.|
|Fall 1990||Dividng Student Government and Residence Government||A University administrative task force decides to remove the Residence Hall Governments from the Student Government.|
|Fall 1990||Student Government Installs Blue Lights||The Senate Crime and Safety Committee successfully receive approval for the installation of a blue-light phone system throughout campus, a system of phones to be used by students in emergency situations.|
|Fall 1993||Project 100 Program Begins||Project 100 (later to become the Student Union Service Council) is founded as a program to get 100 volunteers involved in the Student Government.|
|Fall 2000||Student Government Conducts first Safety Walk||The Student Government conducts its first safety walk after receiving several complaints regarding the safety of the campus.|
|Fall 2003||Implementing a Divide: A Committee to reinvent the Student Government||The new Dean of Students, Kenneth Elmore, creates a committee of students, administrators, and faculty to fight internal conflicts within the Student Union. As a result of this committee, the General Assembly is created. This assembly is run by an Executive Board and is separate from Programming Council and Allocations Board.|