Voting on the future Student Government Association (SGA) president and executive vice president as well as various referenda is set to open on myNEU on Thursday, March 26. The two platforms, IgniteNU and EngageNU, are driven by Eric Tyler with Morgan Helfman and John Finn with Neel Desai, respectively.
Tyler, a junior information science and business dual major, is currently the vice president for academic affairs within SGA and running for student body president. He initially got his start as a senator, representing computer science, which didn’t have any senators at the time, and, after diving into committees, he was hooked.
“I’ve really seen tremendous progress over the past two years,” Tyler said. “Both Nick [Naraghi] and Noah [Carville] have done a tremendous job in engaging students and the administration and creating a conversation and dialogue between both sides. I want to continue that.”
Running for the position of executive vice president (EVP) under Tyler, Helfman is currently the vice president of student affairs.
“When given the opportunity to run for [the] vice president position of student affairs, I jumped at the opportunity,” the sophomore political science and sociology major said. “I’ve gotten to meet so many amazing people through this position.”
Both Tyler and Helfman have noticed a breakdown of communication between students and SGA, highlighting the little-known textbook exchange SGA created last semester. One of their key goals is to increase communication between academic senators and their constituents.
Their platform, IgniteNU, is meant to spark communication, effectiveness and tangible change.
“There’s so much going on on campus and there’s so many things that SGA does; there’s kind of a disconnect between them,” Helfman said. “We know that we need to increase our communication because it’s our responsibility to let students know what we’re working on, especially for something on campus that is happening that’s related to what we’re doing [in SGA].”
Tyler and Helfman hope to improve accessibility to academic senators in order to increase communication and initiatives that have a direct impact on the student body, such as mandatory co-op evaluations and to set up a peer mentoring service. This service, according to Tyler, will pick up where orientation left off and allow students to access peers with diverse backgrounds. He hopes it can help foster student communication and engagement, and provide a support system to students.
“We want to be able to give our students something that they can say ‘SGA did this for me, I’m proud of my SGA, and I’m proud of Northeastern for providing this avenue for change,’” Helfman said.
Finn, the other presidential hopeful, was originally involved in Resident Student Association (RSA) as the liaison to SGA. He then returned to SGA as the vice president for student services last fall. Now on co-op, the third-year finance and accounting major notes that what he loves about student services is the reach and interaction with students, which he hopes to expand upon as president.
“I thought, ‘this model really lets SGA assimilate into the student body and can get a lot of feedback and talk to a lot of people,’” Finn said. “I thought that I really wanted to bring that to the whole organization and let people know that SGA is a tool they can use on campus and we are here to help. I’m really excited to meet a lot of students and to help them as much as I can.”
Desai, a sophomore economics major, is the current vice chairman of the finance committee. He notes that the position of EVP would allow him to work as the project manager on student initiatives and increase participation and diversity.
“It’s up to us to really put student issues in context, because students are the ones that face these issues for the administration,” Desai said. “We have the ability to have tangible change and improve things on campus if we go about it the right way.”
Finn and Desai’s platform, EngageNU, is a three-part plan focusing on engagement, building relationships and action.
“We want to be able to engage with the student body, enable discussion and have people feel comfortable seeking us out,” Finn said. “The second step is to build. We want to build relationships and have the infrastructure needed so students trust us when they come to us, that we can get things done for them. And finally, act. When students come to us, we want to be able to be receptive, hear what they’re saying, but most importantly be able to act on it and help them get their goals done.”
EngageNU’s main goal is to take what students are passionate about and expand on it quickly and efficiently.
“I think the core of our platform is really being an accelerator, not just an incubator for change,” Desai said. “Being able to connect with students on a year-round basis and reach out to them and see what kind of issues they face and what particularly SGA can help them out with.”
The announcement of future SGA president will be made on April 6.
“I’m a very outgoing person,” Finn said. “I really like to have conversations with people who I may have never met, and I really just like to talk to people on campus. I think that it’s a lot of fun to to talk to someone who is very interested in what’s going on on campus and really loves their school, and if anyone ever had anything they wanted to talk to me about – they could always reach out.“
Platform and candidate information is listed on the SGA website.
“I would be a great president because of my experience and my passion,” Tyler said. “Having sat on the executive board this past year, I know where SGA stands and what needs to change in order to move forward and better advocate on behalf of the student body. As much as I love Northeastern, I love seeing the university change for the better and doing whatever I can to make the student experience even better."
This piece was originally published by the Huntington News.
In light of recent criticism, Northeastern University made a payment to the City of Boston on March 2 through the Payments in Lieu of Tax (PILOT) program designed to help cover the costs of municipal services. The university originally paid nothing for the 2014 fiscal year.
Launched in 2011, PILOT calls upon nonprofits with tax-exempt property worth more than $15 million to make two annual payments to cover snow removal, police and fire and other services provided by the city. Each year, the fees are meant to be increased with the goal that by the 2016 fiscal year, each nonprofit will contribute 25 percent of the property tax bill they would pay if they were not exempt.
“Our hospitals, universities, museums and other large tax-exempt institutions play a pivotal role in making Boston a great city, but they also have a civic duty to pay their fair share,” Josh Zakim, the Boston City Councilor for District 8, which includes Northeastern’s Boston campus, said. “Boston is restricted to generating revenue almost exclusively from property taxes. The PILOT program gives tax-exempt institutions an opportunity to compensate the city, at a substantial discount, for the numerous city services they receive.”
In the 2014 fiscal year, Northeastern was asked to pay $2.5 million. The university only recently sent a check for $886,000, nine months after the close of the fiscal year. Northeastern paid the same amount in 2013 and 2012, and $30,000 in 2011.
“I am disappointed that Northeastern has not met the city’s requested PILOT number in any year of the program’s existence,” Zakim said.
As reported by the Boston Globe, 15 of the 19 colleges in Boston did not pay in full for the 2014 fiscal year. Only Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, New England College of Optometry, Showa Institute and Boston Architectural College paid the amounts requested.
In a letter sent with the check addressed to the city’s Assessing Department Commissioner Ronald Rakow, Northeastern’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel Ralph Martin, Jr. stated that the university wanted to support the city.
“We seek to support those efforts without compromising our very substantial financial and in-kind support of Boston academic and community-based programs,” Martin said in the letter.
The letter also stipulated that the university doesn’t necessarily agree with the payment program.
“We believe the calculation guide proposed by the PILOT Task Force does not account for the value of Northeastern’s continuing commitment to important and extraordinary programs and services for Bostonians,” Martin said. “Indeed, our payment should not be construed as support or commitment to the PILOT formula.”
Currently, the university provides nearly $12 million in scholarships that support native Boston students and has helped develop or supported Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s programs like Foundation Year, Step-Up, Healthy Kids/Healthy Futures and STEM programs in Boston public schools. NU is also the only university to host a Boston public charter school, the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers. Additionally, Northeastern students contribute nearly $4 million in volunteer services to the city each year, according to the letter.
Together, these programs and others, in combination with a voluntary $2.1 million a year in property taxes, totals more than $27 million contributed to the city annually, according to Northeastern Associate Vice President of Communications Renata Nyul.
Martin also says that Northeastern does not draw upon Boston services.
“We collect and dispose of our own trash; we have a very able and academy-trained police force that annually writes nearly $20,000 worth of Boston tickets for parking and municipal violations on public ways within and around our campus, and routinely supports Boston police in searches, arrests and crime-scene management; and we plow snow in and around our campus and maintain public sidewalks and green spaces,” Martin said.
Zakim states that he appreciates the institutions that recognize the importance of the PILOT payments, noting that such actions exhibit positive neighborly behavior and are thoughtful in their commitment to the City of Boston and its inhabitants.
“The recent [fiscal year] 2014 contribution, however, is a step in the right direction,” Zakim said. “I hope to continue to work with Northeastern to develop a more positive relationship between the university and the City of Boston and its residents.”
Zakim also believes that the school should pay the full amount requested for the last fiscal year and that the city calculates the requests in a fair and thoughtful manner.
Both Martin and Zakim can agree that the conversation between the city and the university contributes to “mutually important collaborative work,” as stated by Martin.
Sophomore psychology major Alex Peterson says that it is a university’s role to promote its community.
“Private education institutions make a decent profit each year, and I would hope that the purpose of these institutions would be to better their students and their surrounding communities,” Peterson said. “Taxes are for the benefit of the community, so why are these institutions not paying their dues? They certainly have the money to do so.”
Peterson also notes that if money can’t be spent on bettering the communities surrounding campus, the university should ensure a financially stable environment and salary for professors.
Distinguished professor of political science and public policy and former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis thinks nonprofits should contribute to the city financially, but the program may need to be more firmly nailed down.
“I think the nonprofit institutions in Boston should make some direct contribution to the city’s finances,” Dukakis said in an email to The News. “How much it ought to be is something that should be worked out, and the universities are also contributing a lot to the city beyond just PILOT contributions. In any event, I am glad to see that NU is making a contribution.”
This piece was originally published by the Huntington News.
In the early hours of Sunday March 15, Boston police officers responded to 23 Lincoln Street in Hyde Park and found Willie A. Williams suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.
The Roxbury resident was pronounced dead upon arrival. He was 21 years old.
Officers were also informed that a second male victim, who has yet to be identified, had been transported by a witness to Milton Hospital with life-threatening injuries. The second victim was later transported to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
The second male remains in critical condition.
Another Roxbury resident, 40-year-old Luis Ramos, was shot to death the day before near 571 Dudley St.
Read BPD’s full report below:
UPDATE: Victim Identified in Death Investigation in the area of 23 Lincoln Street, Hyde Park: At about 4:00 AM on Sunday, March 15, 2015, officers from District E-18 (Hyde Park) responded to a radio call for a person shot in the area of 23 Lincoln Street in Hyde Park.
Upon arrival, officers observed a male victim believed to be in his 20’s outside the above address suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. The victim was pronounced deceased at the scene. The deceased victim has since been identified as Willie A. Williams, 21, of Roxbury. A short time later, officers were informed that a second male victim of the same incident had been transported by a witness to Milton Hospital with life-threatening gunshot wounds. This victim was later transported to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for further treatment. This victim remains in critical condition.
The Boston Police Homicide Unit is actively investigating the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident. Anyone with information is asked to call Boston Police Homicide Detectives directly at (617) 343-4470.
Community members wishing to assist this investigation anonymously can do so by calling the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 1 (800) 494-TIPS or by texting the word ‘TIP’ to CRIME (27463). The Boston Police Department will stringently guard and protect the identities of all those who wish to help this investigation in an anonymous manner.
This piece was originally posted by Homicide Watch Boston.
Chronicling my journalistic endeavors.
All ocean conservation/biodiversity posts are my own original thoughts. All other posts are my work for other publications.