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!