Cassidy and Mike Focus on Student Life in UGBC Campaign

UGBC elections begin February 17th, but campaigning has already begun. This year, there are three teams running: Cassidy Gallegos, LSOE ’16, and Mike Keefe, A&S ’16; Thomas Napoli, A&S ’16, and Olivia Hussey, A&S ’17; and James Kale, LSOE ’16, and Jose Altomari, A&S ’16. The Gavel sat down with Cassidy and Mike to find out more about their platform, their goals for UGBC, and what we can expect from them should they be elected.

Tell me about yourselves? (Where you’re from, Major, class, and what you’re involved in at BC?)

Cassidy: I’m a Junior, studying applied psychology and human development, and minoring in business management and leadership. I’m from a really small town in California in the Bay Area. I’m the president of TWLOHA, a mental health awareness advocacy group; I did InC (In Community) on Newton Campus last semester; and I was a big sister in the big and little sisters program. For UGBC, I’m currently in Student Initiatives, Director of Mental Health, and a Senator in the Student Assembly.

Mike: I’m a Junior majoring in economics and political science. I’m from Scituate, Mass. I’m the president of Model United Nations, and last year I was on the executive council on UGBC. I was the chief of staff of student assembly.

Within your platform, what are your top three priorities for how to improve student life at Boston College?

Gavel Media / Danielle Johnson

Gavel Media / Danielle Johnson

C: Some of the main things we want to focus on, and there are lots of things that branch under this, are continuing to address mental health, continuing to increase access to resources, continuing to address the freshman life experience, including larger scale mentorship programs that don’t require an application.

M: And the last part is continuing to focus on tangible student life issues, like printers on lower campus or small things like vacuum cleaners for the dorms.

C: One of the biggest things for me is that UGBC campaigns always promise this laundry list of things that are going to happen. I want to focus on actual improvements that I feel that we can make in our year of administration. Every year, so many big ideas are promised, which leads to this perception that UGBC doesn’t follow through. I want to focus on things that I know we can do in a year.

M: Our platform is broken down into short-term goals and long-term goals.

C: Another big issue is sustainability on campus. Making the recycling process more clear and creating more recycling on campus. Those are things we can easily do something about.

M: We want to look into bringing locally grown produce on campus that you can buy with your meal plan.

In the wake of last semester’s events, how do you view the current relationship between UGBC and the BC administration? How do you plan on addressing this during your presidency?

C: This is a very important topic. Among the student body there’s a misperception about that relationship and what it is. I think that interaction between the administration and UGBC is crucial. That is part of the reason UGBC exists, because we can advocate with for the student body with the administration. I am a huge proponent of positive collaboration with the administration, and I know that it can work because I’ve seen it. I think that a lot of people see it as UGBC versus the administration. In my experience that’s not the case, it doesn’t need to be the case, and it shouldn’t be the case. There are times when UGBC should push the envelope and say, “No, this is something that is really important to the student body and we want to see some change.” That’s where we’ll push the administration, but change takes more than a day to happen.

Gavel Media / Danielle Johnson

Gavel Media / Danielle Johnson

M: We think the way to do policy change at BC is through collaboration with administrators. But at the same time there are some issues that are so important that the student government has a responsibility to say that we fundamentally disagree and here is our position. So we’re willing to do both of those things.

You’ve been very involved with the UGBC Be Conscious campaign. Why is this something that you’re passionate about and what do you think can be done about mental health issues at BC?

C: I am passionate about mental health about personal experience that I had in high school that carried through to my freshman year in college, but that has never really ended. I’ve had the time to think about and have conversations about what mental illness is, and what it means. My freshman year, I was really taken aback about the lack of conversation about mental health. So many people didn’t even know about UCS. So many people shied away from talking about it. That really bothered me and it was something that I wanted to do something about. So I looked into starting a chapter of TWLOHA, which started last year. It opened the door to me for what I’m involved with now in UGBC. The Be Conscious campaign is supposed to be this overarching thing that pertains to any group or initative about mental health. I wanted to hear from students about what they needed or wanted for mental health awareness. A lot of people don’t know what mental health means; they don’t know the difference between mental health and mental illness. There’s a lack of education, and that leads to a lack of conversation. A thing I’ve realized is that it’s not the students’ fault; it’s because we don’t know how to address it. It starts with education, and there’s a bunch of things we want to do about that. And then it’s about conversation, and we’ve talked about some events. And then it’s about action. Let’s push for more funding for UCS; let’s bring in speakers like Kevin Breel. It’s not going to be an overnight change, but we’re able to set a precedent.

M: We look at the role of UGBC as twofold–we need to start conversation but we also need to push for policy change. Those are the two roles that we look at in all the action that we take.

The issue of racial tension and division has been a hot topic for the past couple of months, both at BC and across the country. How do you plan on fostering a more open dialogue about race on campus in order to bridge racial divides?

M: So I think it’s really important for Cassidy and I to acknowledge where we come from on these issues, and to follow black leadership. We want to continue the conversation and spark new conversations about race and socioeconomic diversity. UGBC’s role in all of this is to be an advocate and to push for conversation and avenues for all of the students on campus.

C: I was really excited about the black lives matter movement that students advocated for on campus. As a white student, I’ve never personally experienced those struggles that AHANA students deal with. I want to follow the lead of what they want to do, but this is so important. I was very disappointed by the lack of response by UGBC and the administration. We want to talk about that and hear more about why there was such a lack of acknowledgement, when this is affecting our students. It’s so frustrating to me that people don’t believe that there is systemic racism. I have seen it, and I have learned about it, and because we have such a high percentage of white students, it’s the role of the administration to push those conversations.

M: One thing that someone told me is “How can I feel like part of this community when there is only one building on this campus named after a person of color?” We need to look at that, retention of AHANA campus, RA training on diversity. We need to bring these issues to the front so that all students can thrive on campus.

Why should students care about this election and vote?

C: This is probably the hardest thing to tackle every year, because so many students don’t vote. I think it comes back to the idea that “UGBC doesn’t care about me.” Students should get involved because it does affect them. It affects so many things besides the scenes that they don’t even know about. These are tangible things that will affect their experience here at BC.

M: We all come to BC with this vision about what this school is. And if we work here on these policy changes we can work on making this the BC we dream of.

How would you describe your relationship with your running mate?

C: We met on Leadershape last year. I was right in the middle of starting TWLOHA. I had no idea what I was doing. The first night of Leadershape I got an email saying your budget was due in an hour. We didn’t know each other at all, but he helped me put together my budget.

M: It’s a friendship that goes beyond that. It needs to be a relationship that you can trust and call each other out when you disagree, which we have definitely done.

What Netflix shows are you currently binge watching?

C: Friends, Are You the One, Parenthood, all Shonda Rhimes shows.

M: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The West Wing.

Check out James and Jose's platform here. Read Thomas and Olivia's interview here.

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