Letting Students Lead

Last year, we formed a committee – led by students and including several members of the faculty – to generate ideas for how to improve the senior experience, with a particular focus on encouraging senior connections with younger students and with life in the bbin娱乐平台 building. The group made three recommendations, all of which have been implemented: hosting a senior retreat, which took place on Thompson Island in late August for some early bonding before a busy fall; bringing much-needed new furniture into the Junior-Senior Common Room; and designating the Quiet Study Room, formerly open to all students, as a place for juniors and seniors to work between BU classes rather than going to the BU library and other spaces up and down Comm. Ave. It’s all working! Despite a rainy day, the energy at the retreat was positive and fun, and it has continued into September. We are seeing many more seniors in the bbin娱乐平台 building all throughout the day – whether they are piled on the new couches in the JSR or studying Differential Equations in the QSR. We are all better for having our seniors happy, connected, and close by.

One of the challenges with the Quiet Study Room in the past has been keeping it quiet; students understandably wanted to talk and joke, which was sometimes loud and disruptive to others trying to study or to students in the English classroom next door. We adults had frankly failed to solve the problem. So, we turned to the students – and they have (so far) fixed it! They announced a witty rebrand of the QSR to the CIA (Considerate Independent-study Area), borrowing wording from quiet spaces in the Mugar Library that students are already familiar with. They designed and placed reminder placards on the tables in the room about the noise expectations in that space. They even posted a public service announcement on the Student Council Instagram. They are owning the change, and it’s working.

When we listen to students and empower them to build the kind of community they want to be in, we all move forward together. They have a lived experience we adults simply don’t have. They understand things we don’t. They can tell us what they need. They know how to inspire their classmates. They understand how to change the culture. And they learn that they are capable and powerful agents for positive change – an insight they will carry with them beyond these walls. I could not be more proud of our seniors, more grateful for the tone they are setting for all of us this year, and more optimistic about the months ahead.

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