Club Spotlight: The Center for Gender, Sexuality, and Activism (CGSA)

Hannah Martin (CAS ’25)

In the basement of the George Sherman Union located in Central campus, you will find a lot of different, cool places. One area being the BU Central, where student organizations can book the space and hold events, largely shows or something to utilize the stage in the room. There are also the Boston University Student Government offices, and even a Plan B vending machine which was put in by Students for Reproductive Freedom (another club on campus). These additions to the BU campus are great, and truly deserve more foot traffic than it receives since it is hidden down in the basement. However, the true hidden gem of the building is the Center for Gender, Sexuality, and Activism (CGSA). 

CGSA is the one of the only student organizations on campus that maintains a fully student-owned space. It is dedicated to being a safe space for all students, regardless of identity. It is an extremely welcoming environment, as there is usually candy and stickers at the front desk, an art wall, and the legendary purple couches decorated with pillows and throw blankets. Students can go down there to study, hang out with friends, attend club meetings, sleep, and eat bagels (for free on fridays!) at the CGSA. This organization is truly like no other due to its defining and unique characteristics, and I am going to tell you why. 

THE SPACE/ROOMS

At Boston University, it is really rare for clubs to have a physical pace. However, CGSA is responsible for four rooms in the basement of the GSU. When you first arrive, you are in the main room which connects to a partial kitchen. The main room looks similar to a typical living room; there’s couches, a small table, and a desk right next to the door. If you turn to your left you will see a kitchen area, supplied with a refrigerator, freezer, toaster, and even a coffee maker! There is also a large table where you can do homework, or eat a meal with friends. 

This already seems pretty great, huh? Amazingly, it gets even better. There are two doors you can enter after you walk through the main area. The door on the right allows you to enter into the Womb Room. The Womb Room is a space on campus where students can be completely alone for a while to take care of themselves. Students can take a needed nap or even cry in this room. It is stocked with affirmations, sensory items, and a couch. Currently, the CGSA is trying to get more rooms like this put in across campus!

Directly across from the Womb Room is a new addition to the space: The Gender-Affirming Room for Belonging (GARB). GARB is a physical space on campus for transgender, non-binary, or otherwise gender nonconforming students to explore and affirm their identity and expression. The room is stocked with makeup, clothing, shaving products, and other gender-affirming items! It just launched this November, and to launch the room CGSA held a fashion show for all to attend. It was a great success, and everyone is so excited for students to have this necessary resource on campus. 

There is one other room in the CGSA and frankly, I think it is underrated. This room is titled the Library Room, and it is exactly what it sounds like. Students can go in this room to study, collaborate on a group project, or even take a zoom call. There are bookshelves, tables, and even a tiny trophy with Rhett on top of it. 

THE CLUBS

CGSA hosts clubs in its space, and allows organizations to become “CGSA clubs”. This basically means that they get the opportunity to use the CGSA space, whether that be for storage, meetings, or other events. A lot of students find CGSA through attending meetings for another club in the space. In order for clubs to gain this affiliation they must have some key feature that aligns with CGSA’s main goals. As of this semester the CGSA has six clubs: PERIOD., Students for Reproductive Freedom, Students for Justice in Palestine, Active Minds, Transgender Listening Circle, and the Young Democratic Socialists of America. Everyone in these clubs has the opportunity to collaborate with one other, and it really allows for a gigantic and welcoming  community. 

SAFE SPACE

Above all else, CGSA is truly a safe space for all students. It strives to be a place for students to feel comfortable being themselves, and have the opportunity for their expression and identity to be celebrated. This is the primary goal of CGSA, and it is heavily portrayed through its actions and messaging. 

ADVOCACY 

Since it is in the name, CGSA does have a focus on activism as well. On the walls of the main room there are multiple protest posters, the club itself attends protests and rallies that aligns with its values, and debate and discourse about ongoing issues is welcomed. However, the club still manages to keep the actual space very safe, and oftentimes has to hold sensitive conversations or events outside of the physical area of CGSA. 

Overall, CGSA is a very multifaceted club, and is a great community to be a part of. I have never met such a welcoming and friendly group of people before becoming involved in CGSA. To become involved students can volunteer, apply for an e-board position, or even be part of one of their many subcommittees! The options are endless in the CGSA, and I would highly recommend checking out the club, or at least the space, during your time here at Boston University.

A guide to navigating the MBTA aka the T

Haley Alvarez-Lauto (COM '25)

I grew up in the ultimate suburbia. If you walked 15 minutes in any direction, you had barely moved a neighborhood down. I grew up being driven around everywhere and then got my license and drove myself everywhere.

Growing up in suburban Florida, with a barely functioning public bus system and not even school buses in operation, I came to Boston heavily reliant on driving to get just about anywhere – and a complete novice when it came to navigating the public transportation system.

But, I quickly began to familiarize myself with the MBTA. I would now consider myself at least a little qualified to give you sometimes what I wish I had read before I moved to Boston. In this guide, I’ll talk about the basics of the MBTA and my best tips for navigation.

General Overview

Boston has five main T lines, all color-coded for the section of the city it travels through: Blue, Green, Orange, Silver and Red Lines,. (Although, technically the Silver Line is made up of underground buses).

  • The Blue Line will take you to the beaches, and Boston Logan International
  • The Green Line (the one you should get the most familiar with since Boston University has six stops along the B Line of the Green Line.
  • The Red Line which takes you to Harvard, MIT, and UMass Boston.
  • The Orange Line which takes you to Chinatown, Assembly Row, and the Arnold Arboretum.

For the purpose of this guide, I will be focusing on the Green Line, as it is what BU students take the most frequently. However, it does get a little bit more complicated, as the Green Light is composed of 4 branches, notated by their end destinations or letters: Boston College (B), Cleveland Circle (C), Riverside (D), and
Heath Street (E).

The B line is the most important line to get familiar with as a Boston University student, as there are 6 stops along our mile stretch of campus. If you are ever trying to get into Downtown Boston, 9 times out of 10 you are taking the B train from campus. The fare for the subway is $2.40 one way, and $1.70 for buses.

If you are interested in learning more about the logistics of the MBTA, I encourage you to check out MBTA User Guides on their website.

https://www.mbta.com/schedules/subway

Now, onto my personal tips.
1. Get a CharlieCard One of the first things you should do when you start at Boston University is get a reusable CharlieCard, which you can load cash value or passes to pay for the T or busses. CharlieCards are available at fare vending machines in most subway stations, MBTA staff at most subway stations. They’re free other than the cash value you load on to them. It’s a lot more durable and convenient than a printable CharlieTicket. In a pinch, the T and busses accept cash as well.

2. My favorite apps for navigating the subway. Be sure to download an app that will help you navigate the subway. My favorites are ProximiT, Citymapper (which you can use in other cities), and also the Terrier Transit App
(which also has the BU bus schedule and estimated times). These apps allow you to enter your destination and get step by step directions. In addition, ProximiT uses GPS tracking to give an estimate of when the T or a bus will arrive at a station.

3. Keep in mind the hours of operation. Most bus and train service starts around 5 AM and ends around 1 AM. So if you’re planning on taking the T after a late night, remember to catch the last train before 1 AM or Uber back.

4. Kenmore is your best friend if you live in East Campus. I lived in Kilachand Hall my freshman year and absolutely loved being so close to Kenmore Station since 3 of the 4 green lines stop at Kenmore. If I was ever coming back from
Downtown Boston, I knew I could hope on any green line train (just not the E line!) and end up at Kenmore.

5. Get to know your vocabulary: inbound vs outbound
Inbound is always toward the 4 stations near Boston Common and outbound services travels away from those stations: Park Street, State Street, Government Center, Downtown Crossing.

6. Requesting a stop on the Green Line street level. You do not need to request your stop on the Red, Orange, or Blue Line. Or, on the Green Line when it’s underground – trains stop at every station. However when the Green Line trains are running at street level (basically the majority of our campus and into the Allston Brighton neighborhood), you will need to request a stop. Press
the yellow or black tape near the windows, or pull the gray cable near the ceiling of the train.

7. Hang on tight! The T can be vicious sometimes with sudden starts and stops, so make sure to either take a seat, grab a hold of a pole or hand hold, and hang on tight. Sometimes when the T gets super crowded, it’s impossible to hang on. So, make sure to stand with a wide stance, with one foot slightly in front of the other to maintain your balance. Trust me, nothing is more embarrassing
than falling on the MBTA.

Fellow Kilachand Student Smaran Ramidi and I rode a Green Line Train headed to Seaport last December!

A Summer in Review: Boston Edition

Smaran Ramidi CAS'25

The city of Boston is beautiful. Running across campus to get to your next class, you often see the skyline of the city in the background. But with so much homework, club meetings, and going to work, it's often difficult to truly explore the city.  When I had the chance to stay in Boston over the summer, exploring the city was my first priority after work. So join me in reflecting on my summer in Boston.

Seaport:

 A so-called essential part of Boston to visit, Seaport became my second home as I went there every weekday to work. So while the glitz and glam was interesting at first, the overpriced food and long commute made it less fun overtime. While everybody should visit Seaport for its winter market and the Institute of Contemporary Art, frequent trips aren’t necessary.

South End:

 The South End of Boston is an amazing neighborhood. With a vibrant culture that traces its roots back to being Boston’s BIPOC community, the lack of public transit access to the city makes historical sense. So while it's a bit of a trek to get over to the South End, the walk itself has a beauty in itself. With a very different vibe from the rest of the city, the pop-up summer SoWa market along with the year round indoor SoWa market, it was a great visit. The South End also houses the city’s art community with open viewings of many art studios and beautiful works. It might take a little bit more planning and time to visit the South End, but it’s totally worth it.

Cambridge:

 Between the sprawling campuses of MIT and Harvard, it's difficult to see the beauty of Cambridge. While it isn’t the city of Boston, Cambridge is close enough and has its own charm. While it also takes a little bit more walking, you get the chance to explore a lot more local Boston spots. From the overflowing clothes of the Garment District to the graffiti alley in Central, Cambridge has its fair share of hidden treasuries. All it takes it just a little bit time to look past what we normally see.

Walking:

 Walking is not the name of a part of Boston, but my favorite way to get around in the city. Yes, Boston is indeed the most walkable city. In the rush of life, taking the bus and the T is our best option. But when you have the time, a good walk is all it takes to feel like you have control of everything once again. My favorite walking trip? Walking from Marsh Chapel to the North End.

Yes it took 2 hours, but it was the most calming experience of my summer. I took it with fellow Kilachand student Monet Ota. Together we set out to walk all the way to the North End with the motivation of a delicious cannoli to end the trip. A walk full of recapping our summers so far, a break on Newbury Street for mochi donuts, playing on the playground in the Boston Commons, and finally a delicious tiramisu cannoli. College is stressful, but then you remember having moments like this.

 Every tour I give at BU, I always make my group pause and look at the Boston skyline from Comm Ave. I always remind them that Boston University is in the city of Boston. But I forget that fact too, suck in the BU bubble. So after this summer, I’ve made a promise to myself to take the breaks I need to visit the city I came to BU for.

5 Tips for Studying for the MCAT During the School Year

Emma Hartman ENG'23

Since freshman year, every pre-med student has had it drilled into them: “the MCAT is hard and the MCAT is important.” While that may be true, studying for the Medical College Admissions Test doesn’t have to take over your life. Here are 5 tips for studying for the MCAT at BU without destroying your GPA or social life.

1.) Make a schedule
I added my study hours to my Google Calendar and treated them like another class with mandatory attendance. If you don’t have a set time to study (no matter how brief), your MCAT studying could be just another thing to slip through the cracks. Pick a reasonable amount of hours that you can maintain consistently once your schoolwork picks up.

2.) Find a study location outside of your dorm
Most people seem to agree with this tip when it comes to studying for anything. Leave your home and all of the distractions you have in it. You could go somewhere on campus like the Stuvi study rooms to be around other people or the upper floors of the Mugar Library for silence. You could even get excited to study by studying at a different coffee shop every week.

3.) Tell your friends
If your friends know about your plans, they’ll want to support you. If they have a loose understanding of your schedule, they’ll try not to distract you during your study hours, cheer you on, and can even help keep you accountable if you start to slip. Luckily for me, one of my friends was studying for the MCAT at the same time as me, so we were able to study together, which kept both of us from bailing on our prep hours.

4.) Be flexible
If schoolwork winds up taking more of your time than expected or if you’re just overwhelmed, it’s okay to modify your study plan. Even if you have to cut back on studying, it’s better to have a smaller number of high quality study hours than a ton of “study hours” where you were too stressed to retain any info.

5.) Don’t stop living your life
Life goes on! You only have 4 years at BU and you don’t want to miss them. When you’re not studying for the MCAT, don’t waste your time thinking about the MCAT. Keep up with your friends, clubs, and all of the things that make your BU experience special

The Five Best Places to Study at BU

By Gabrielle Gewirtz CAS ‘24

As a new semester is getting underway, it’s time to revisit the best study spots on BU campus. BU is well known as a big campus, which can seem intimidating, but with this list, you are sure to find new places to help you crank out that paper that’s especially hard to write or just do some last-minute readings.

Questrom Starbucks

In my opinion, the Starbucks located in Questrom is the best Starbucks on campus. The coffee is great, and there’s usually good music playing. The booths are particularly comfortable to sit and camp out in, and it’s even more fun when you’re studying there with friends.

3rd Floor of Mugar Library

The first floor of Mugar is also a great study area but is usually incredibly crowded. The third floor, however, is usually less crowded and is a just as good, if not better, study spot. The rows of desks give you a bit of privacy while also being able to talk to the person next to you if you are with friends. Studying within the bookshelves also, at least for me, makes me feel more studious and gets me in the mood to do work.

1st Floor of CGS

This might seem like a weird spot, but the comfortable couches are too hard to ignore. I also really like the atmosphere; most people are also doing work, and everyone is usually doing something different, so this is a great space if you are working alone on an assignment.

CAS Think Tank

This is for all the people that need a quiet study space. The Think Tank is usually silent, and so this is a great place for people studying alone. There are a lot of outlets to charge any devices you have, and there are different seating arrangements (desks, chairs, couches) so that you can choose the spot that makes you the most comfortable.

Kilachand Common Room

This is not a quiet space, so if you need to be in absolute silence to do work, this is not the place for you. However, it’s always nice to go downstairs (especially if you are living in Kilachand) and study while also getting into conversation with whoever else is in the common room at the time. The close proximity to the kitchen is also really nice for eating snacks while studying.

I hope this list has helped you find new places to study, or even just new places to hang out. Good luck to everyone this semester!

The Life-Changing Power of Writing Lists

Emily Yoder CAS'24

As I began this semester, which, as a junior, marked the halfway point through my college career, I decided to evaluate the past two years. I’m studying abroad in the spring and realized that, after I leave campus for Christmas break, I won’t return to BU until I’m a senior, at which point I hope to be well on my way to completing graduate school applications. “Time flies” is a cliché, but all clichés are rooted in some reality and I decided to do some early semester critical thinking to maximize this last semester on campus before all of the responsibilities and life changes of senior year hit. I think that critically evaluating oneself during periods of change is a positive way to ensure that that change is for the better. I regret not making lists such as the one that I’m about to outline before my past two semesters at BU; doing this as a form of journaling taught me what factors are the most important to my mental health, happiness, and academic or professional success. So, enough background: here’s a guide to writing some easy (and hopefully relaxing) self-analytical lists as a form of journaling!

A Short Guide to Self-Reflection:

Make lists! Write out:

  1. What things made you the happiest last semester? Were they social, your
    hobbies, trying new things?
  2. What upset you the most last semester OR what negatively impacted you
    last semester? Were these things in your control? Were they patterns, or
    one-time, exceptional occurrences?
  3.  What worked well for you academically or professionally last semester?
  4. What didn’t? (Note: a really important part of this process is balancing
    everything going on in your life which, for most BU students, is a combination of academics and jobs, your social life, and your time outside of class otherwise. Don’t limit the lists to just one of these areas!).

Analyze those lists! Now that you hopefully have some bullet points about things that made you happy or unhappy and worked or didn’t work, make a new list from that material:

  1. Which positive things that you learned from thinking about last semester will you continue to do?
  2. Which negative habits you may have found will you drop?
  3. What can you generalize about yourself overall from these lists? i.e. “I’m the happiest when I maximize my social time” or “I need time to myself to recharge”

I hope that this little outline can help you think about your college experience so far (or maybe your high school experience if you’re a freshman!); I love writing but journaling can occasionally intimidate me, so I’ve found that listing things, for example moments I want to remember or that made me smile, is a great way to start reflecting about myself and write some things down without being overwhelming

A Summer in Boston – from a Fellow Premed

Emma Kraus CAS'23

My MCAT was scheduled for August 27th. This date was starred, circled, highlighted and burned into my memory in May as I moved into my sublet for summer 2022, a cozy but small apartment in Fenway. Thinking about it made me cringe and force myself to take a breath. It was going to be a long summer.

My study schedule was personalized for my learning habits and I had planned it out perfectly, but this doesn’t mean looking at a 5 days a week, 8 hour a day summer full of studying was anything to look forward to. I think I may have explored every nook or the GSU and Mugar Library, and by the end of the summer, I could tell you anything about that library (Floor 3 has the comfiest chairs, a women’s restroom and a water bottle refilling station but it often gets cold. Floor 2, however, is much more comfortable but no water bottle refilling station and floor 6 doesn't have large tables to spread out.)

Despite all my doom and gloom in the wake of my MCAT, I was determined to enjoy my summer as a college student in Boston. Twice a week, I worked as a medical scribe at a head and neck oncology clinic, and found so much joy in my work. I fell in love with gossiping at the nurses station, my coffee conversations with my PA and attending, and getting to meet so many patients who never gave up even when they had to undergo another round of chemo. Like many other rising seniors this summer, I got a glimpse of the “after undergrad” life, and it kept me motivated to finish strong, although I was already so eager to contribute everything I had learned to a world outside college.

My best friend, also studying for the MCAT while in her hometown Toronto, helped me make an Instagram account called @MCAT_caffeine where we would explore coffee shops in Boston and Toronto and share them with our followers (my mom and I think 6 other people?). I probably looked like a crazy person when I visited these places, sometimes crouching down to get a good picture of my latte or trying to discreetly snap a photo of the bakery items that day. But I didn’t care. I was finding happiness in the little things the city of Boston gave me that summer.

As I write this, I don’t know what score I received yet on my test. But I know I worked hard and tried my best. BU helped me prepare, and my desire to become a physician pushed me the rest of the way. Not to be dramatic, but there were definitely some low points. Looking back on the summer, however, most of what I can remember is kayaking down the Charles river, trying new coffee every week, going out to bars after I finalllllyyyy turned 21, and just being grateful to have the opportunity to experience Boston in a different light.

*Side note: if any reader has coffee questions, MCAT studying questions, or just any thoughts they want to share with me, I’d love to hear! You can contact me at my email: emmank@bu.edu

My Experience with the Kilachand Internship Program

Bridgette Lang CAS'23

Last school year, I was awarded the Kilachand Internship Stipend in order to support my summer internship with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The stipend supported my housing, transportation, and food costs in Geneva for two months. Not only was I given funding to offset living costs, but I was given mentorship and a framework to think about social justice.

Kilachand’s interdisciplinary curriculum approach is exemplified through the Kilachand Internship Program. Like other awardees, I had the opportunity to think about social justice issues through my internship and consider advocacy in an interdisciplinary perspective. I was excited to work at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees because my social media internship combined my interest in communications and international relations. Building off my knowledge from my Kilachand course, HC302, I walked into my internship very aware of how important it was to give refugees agency, and ultimately, let them tell their own stories through UNHCR communications channels.

This summer, I was able to do just that through UNHCR’s social media. With such a wide-reaching platform and a large number of stakeholders engaged with our work, I have ensured that our content and outputs are carefully selected and captioned, representing various stories, backgrounds, and regions. I've also helped with strategic campaigns, like the launch of our 2022 Education Report and World Humanitarian Day, by creating social media plans, drafting copy, and selecting photos. Outside of these short-term tasks, I also monitor UNHCR’s country-level and staff personal accounts. All in all, I have seen the overwhelmingly positive impact of social media in sharing the voices of refugees; the supportive comments and engagement everyday are a sign of people understanding our work and how they can become better advocates.

I am incredibly thankful that I’ve had the chance to live abroad and work on a topic that I’m very passionate about. If your internship is unpaid and related to social justice, I highly suggest that you look into this opportunity and start gathering your application materials for when it opens this winter. You can learn more here: https://www.bu.edu/khc/for-current-students/experiential-learning/kilachand-internship-program/

Beyond the Dining Hall

Marie Kimball (CAS'23)

BU Dining is great. There are always lots of options, and the staff is incredibly helpful and friendly. Marciano Commons, one of the three dining halls on campus, is in fact right across the street from Kilachand Hall. However, sometimes you’re not in the mood for the dining hall, or if you have a kitchen, don’t have enough time to cook. I’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of my favorite spots to eat around BU:

  1. Einstein’s 

Einstein’s is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or a quick snack. Conveniently located in the College of Arts and Sciences (where most of my classes happen to be), Einstein’s is the best. I always can grab a bagel, an iced coffee, and a table to do work or catch up with a friend in between classes.

  1. Dunkin’ Donuts

I know, I know. A lot of people prefer Starbucks. But being from New England, Dunks will always be my favorite. The only one on campus is connected to Stuvi 1 on West Campus. An iced coffee with mocha swirl always makes my day better!

  1. Basho

Basho is right in the middle of campus, so I like swinging by this place on my way home for lunch or dinner when I don’t have as much time to cook. The Katsu Chicken Bowl is my favorite. This bowl with crispy chicken and a ton of veggies and rice really hits the spot.

  1. Limered Teahouse

This is, in my opinion, the best place for boba on campus! It’s on west campus near Stuvi 2. I love ordering a classic milk tea with red beans and then camping out in the cozy chairs near the front window to get bigger assignments, like essays and presentations, all wrapped up.

  1. Raising Canes 

I think as a BU student I’m required to mention Canes. And it’s true, it’s the best. Near Limered, Canes serves up the best chicken, fries, and garlic bread. Not to mention the Canes sauce - most people think it’s better than the Chick-fil-a sauce, but you’ll have to try it and let me know what you think.

  1. Cornish Pasty Co

This restaurant is a quick walk from Danielson Hall, on the east end of campus, and is perfect for cold Boston nights. This British establishment serves up the best pasties, my favorite being the traditional. It’s essentially meat, cheese, and veggies all baked into a pastry shell, and it’s the best after walking down the wind tunnel Bay State Road can turn into in January and February.

  1. Coreanos

Finally, we have Coreanos. I’ll admit that this one isn’t so much on campus, it’s a little farther into the Allston neighborhood. However, it’s totally worth the walk, or a short ride down the T. Coreanos is a Korean and Mexican fusion restaurant. I always order their classic bowl, packed with chicken, rice, eggs, and the best sauce. It’s fun to go here on the weekends when I’m spending time with friends and unwinding from the week before.

I hope that these recommendations can help you out when you’re checking out Kilachand and BU. Feel free to reach out to any of us ambassadors to ask any questions!