James Kale II, LSOE '16, sat down with the Gavel to discuss his plans for the future of UGBC. James' running mate Jose Altomari was unable to meet with the Gavel but James stressed the collaborative effort of their shared campaign.
Throughout the interview, James highlighted the necessity for transparency, responsibility and integration. When asked about the nature of student government, James was adamant that students should be able to understand the title and role of every person and that everyone involved should be held accountable.
James' passion and his commitment was evident as he shared his ideas with the Gavel.
Tell us about yourself! Where you’re from, what your major is, and what else you’re involved in at BC?
James: My name is James Kale II. I’m an applied psychology, human development major in the Lynch school. I’m pre-Law track minoring in African and African Diaspora studies. I’m originally from the Bronx, New York. I was the chairman of the annual MLK Memorial Gathering, which happens on MLK day every year. I am the co-director of political and social activism for the Black Student Forum. And that’s about it this year because I was taking a step back from certain things especially to embark on this journey.
Okay, so going right into your platform — what are your top three priorities for how to improve student life at Boston College?
J: One of the biggest things we definitely want to do is add printers to Lower, because I know, especially with the snow days we’ve been dealing with, a lot of upperclassmen have to troop from Lower all the way up to main campus, so definitely get more printers. We want to advocate for more collaboration amongst the student population. We noticed, especially from last semester dealing with Black Lives Matter, that students want to see academics getting involved, departments getting involved — RSOs were joining UGBC and they didn’t want to see that division existing any longer. They actually want to see the Undergraduate Government being involved. We’re trying to be that voice for them and advocate for them so we actually can bring all aspects of the University together.
Another aspect is definitely to be more inclusive—the fact that we can make everyone’s issues UGBC issues. We noticed that everything here at BC goes from the top down. If the administration doesn’t make it a problem or talk about it, then students feel like they shouldn’t talk about it. So therefore we want to make sure that there’s communication across all lines. And we can have those open, honest and 100% communicatory lines open for all aspects of UGBC and student government.
In the wake of last semester’s events, how do you plan on addressing those issues directly and how do you think you can work with the administration to solve any issues that come about from these sort of things?
J: So I would say we’ve been working diligently, especially in a position with the administration to figure out exactly what we can do for students. Because it’s not just for black students—a lot of students were involved with this—there’s a lot of students of different ethnicities, races and socioeconomic backgrounds. We’re trying to fix these certain situations on BC’s campus. So it can be more like the real world.
So how has your identity as an AHANA student affected both your vision for your presidency and the platform that you’re running on?
J: I wouldn’t say it affected it at all for the most part. Except for last semester when I began doing things—working with the administration. I felt that I as a student was working with the administration, and doing things that I wished UGBC was helping us do or should have been doing for us that we shouldn’t have to be doing ourselves. That is kind of their role as a governing group amongst the student population. So therefore that’s kind of what further motivated me, because I was already on the track to doing it, but that happening pushed us even further. Because we were already doing it, why not continue doing it and get more done holding possibly that office?
The issue of racial tension and division has been a serious issue for a while, both at BC specifically and across the country generally. How do you plan on fostering a more open dialogue about race on campus? Are there any ways you can institute different programs or different speakers? I know we’ve already seen a lot of that, but how do you think you can bring that more to the front?
J: So BC is a microcosm of the real world—it’s one of the reasons that I love BC—because you’re going to go places where you’re still dealing with white privilege, still dealing with racism, still dealing with people not caring. In that regard, though it may be annoying, it’s also a teachable moment and you learn from it. What the university has been doing is it has been putting on different events, and there have been great turnouts. BC doesn’t have many facilities to hold these things, because we spill over to other rooms or there won’t be enough room for students, administrators, faculty, whoever wants to partake in these things.
To answer your question about how we can implement certain things, we were thinking of getting ADS to help with cultural competency for professors. Having cross-current classes be a course within itself. The cultural diversity core can definitely change—instead of just taking this one class where you don’t discuss anything, you have to attend four events throughout the semester to get that one credit to be like you actually discussed and talked about these certain things for cultural diversity, and to help get you that grade for that class, because you actually discuss it, you actually get to practice it, think about it, not just hear [about it]. Most classes are not about cultural diversity at all.
Why should students care about this election and vote?
J: I think students should always care. I know that many students don’t care about UGBC, and I think, well, I know for a fact that’s what makes me want to run—the fact that I think students should have a voice in the student government, but they lost trust in the student government; and that’s a problem. They’re supposed to be advocating for the students and they are the number one people who are supposed to be helping with student life on campus. That’s why I think it’s important. So I’m trying to get people to vote.
Seniors don’t think they can vote. They can vote, they’re still undergrads. They can vote for whoever is coming after them to make sure people don’t live through what they went through, in case they didn’t like it, or to make it better for those coming after them. It is important for people to vote to get their voices out, and it’ll be interesting to see these three different parties coming together and campaigning against one another.
A lot of us have a lot of the same things we want to get across. So I think people will start to get involved because we finally bring different aspects, little communities within BC, together for the first time, I think, since I’ve been here.
I know Jose isn’t here, but how would you describe your relationship with him?
J: Jose is one of my best friends. Jose and I have known each other since OTE (Options Through Education program)—I couldn’t get rid of Jose to be honest (laughs). We happened to be in the same small group, we ended up living on the same floor freshman year, we had the same friend group—so it was like, maybe there was something about each other that could bring us close together. Over time, he’s a very sincere person, I love his character, he's a great person. He’s very passionate and dedicated, that’s one of the reasons that joined us together.
We know we’ve seen people who say they want to do this or do that, but we know that when we’re passionate about something, we’re actually going to do it. We don’t care for the title, we don’t care for anything else that comes along with it. We want to see it happen. Our motivations are not for us, they’re for other people, because we’d rather see that gratification within others. And that’s what gravitated us towards each other and it’s like we should do this together.
So to end with a fun question—we wanted to know from all of the candidates—what Netflix show are you currently binge-watching?
J: I don’t have a Netflix account. I started watching TV when I came to BC.
Any show that you’re interested in watching?
J: I keep hearing a lot about the Game of Thrones, so I’m kind of interested in watching it. I’m a big Harry Potter fan and I heard there’s some similarities between the two. So I’ve kind of been interested in looking into it, but I don’t have the time to.
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