May 23, 2019 | 78° F

RUSA kicks off year with bill encouraging healthy drinking habits

Photo by Nikhilesh De |

February 2016 | Evan Covello, middle, a School of Arts and Sciences junior and RUSA vice president, discussed the upcoming year during the RUSA meeting on Sept. 8.

The Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) reconvened on Sept. 8 at the Student Activities Center to prepare for the new academic year, where the group passed a bill funding a pilot program to distribute food and drinks on weekends to encourage healthy drinking habits.

The committee introduced the “Bill to Approve Funding of MidKnight Snacks” to combat Heavy Episodic Drinking (HED), more commonly known as binge-drinking. The bill is authored by Evan Covello, Anish Patel and Calvin Ferrera.

RUSA proposes distribution of water bottles, snacks — including chips and pretzels — and hot food including hot dogs, chicken tenders, fries and subs. The total cost from the budget is $5,412.50.

Distribution of the food and drink will be by RUSA volunteers working in 90-minute shifts. Volunteers will be tabling at The Yard, in front of the College Avenue Student Center and at the Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships building at 39 Union St.

The goal of this bill is to “engage enough student organization to create a culture where eating food and drinking water when going out is the norm,” said Ferrera, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore and RUSA member.

Patel, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and RUSA parliamentarian, cited 40 percent of college students engage in HED at least once a month.

The Alcohol and other Drug Assistance Program and the Rutgers University Police Department, among other institutions, have announced their support for such an initiative, both financially and logistically, Ferrera said.

The bill passed 22-9-1.

Members also addressed an issue that garnered ample attention over the summer after a video surfaced showing a Rutgers staffer putting a student in a headlock at a Board of Governors meeting addressing tuition. 

The incident, which RUSA members said in a letter could have been prevented if students had voting rights on the board, spurred the student organization to begin lobbying for Bill A2134. This bill would grant the students a voting representative on the University Board of Governors.

Individuals, including the School of Arts and Sciences junior, have been meeting with legislators around the state and across the table to support the bill, Vice President Evan Covello said.

“This (bill) is something that every single student at Rutgers can support,” Covello said. “It would allow the student voice to carry real weight on the most influential governing board at Rutgers.”

The main goal for this year is to “strengthen the student voice,” Covello said. RUSA has established two groups — the Student Affairs Committee and Sexual Assault Prevention Committee — that will offer a platform of communication for students.

Bushra Hasan is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in cell biology and neuroscience. She is a staff writer for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @Hasanabanana for more.

Bushra Hasan

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