SGA Town Hall Sparks Debate on Clean Energy and Gentrification


By Jillian WrigleyIMG_5480.jpg

PHOTO: sophomore finance major Max Wagner presenting referenda questions on behalf of HEAT 

Northeastern students speaking at a campus forum on Wednesday want the school to consider holing referendums on renewable energy plastic water bottles and neighborhood construction projects.

Groups submitted referenda questions at the forum sponsored by the Student Government Association (SGA) and gathered in the Curry West Mezzanine.

The town hall style forum provided an open platform for students to decide which referenda questions the undergraduate student body will be able to vote on when the spring direct election ballot is released on March 16th.

“Over the years, we’ve seen significant student interest [in the referenda],” said one of the event organizers, fourth-year information science major and SGA president Elliot Horen. “I think referenda are an important mechanism for students to express their concerns and calls of action to the university.”

After presentations by sponsors from Husky Environmental Action Team (HEAT) and Students Against Institutional Discrimination (SAID), the audience was able to decide if each question passed the following criteria: “adherence to university policy, fairness of wording, and feasibility.”

Two of the three submitted referenda questions were proposed by sophomore finance major Max Wagner, a representative of HEAT.

HEAT’s first proposal calls on the administration to add water fountain installations in more locations around campus and review the efficiency of existing renewable energy sources with the goal of carbon neutrality.

Their second referendum question was a call on the university to stop selling plastic water bottles from dining services on campus.

“Look at the universities around us,” said Wagner. “Looking at Harvard, MIT, all of these Massachusetts schools are leading the field in renewable energy while Northeastern has really fallen behind, even though we like to call ourselves leaders in green energy and sustainability.”

The next referenda question was proposed by members from SAID, who advocated for the creation of a new council consisting of community members to give input on university projects

“Look, Northeastern has expressed multiple times that they are, ‘deeply invested in preserving Boston urban life’” said Jaclyn Roache, a fourth year political science major and sponsor from SAID took the microphone and responded. But it’s our job to tell them that this is something the students want and something that should be done.”

Rebecca Raffo, a second year political science major who was in the audience said she enjoyed the debate.

“People were really receptive to what the authors were saying and I think the authors presented their cases very well. I personally think all three referenda proposals are really good ideas, especially if when we vote, they’re backed by student interest. That’s what really matters, what the students want.”



About Jillian Wrigley's Boston Globe Review

Studying Journalism and Business Administration at Northeastern University
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