Daniel Lee / Gavel Media

Russell and Meredith Talk Policy and Vision

Tell us about yourselves!  Where you’re from, what your majors are, and what else you’re involved with at BC.

Russell — “Both Meredith and I are Juniors, and we’re also both from New York. Very different ends of New York. I’m from Southern New York; Westchester County.  I’m a biology major and a medical humanities minor.  I’m also a pre-med student. I currently do student missions programs, in the past I’ve done Campus Activities Board, I also run an academic journal, I do scientific research for a lab.  Not all of which will be continued going into next year.  But I’ve gotten a pretty good look at a lot of different organizations just by being in them.

Meredith — “I’m from Lockport, New York, which is a suburb of Buffalo, so other end of the state. I’m a political science major, pre-law, and my biggest commitment outside of UGBC so far has been Mock Trial. That’s something I’ve been really passionate about during my time here.  But, next year, with the role we’re taking on, other commitments are going to have to be reevaluated and changed.

What is the issue that you would most like to focus on during your term?  And if there isn’t one, what is the first thing that you want to accomplish?

Russell — “We constructed this platform not placing an emphasis on any single item, because we have seen in the past administrations bogged down by the fact that they didn’t accomplish that one thing they set out to do.  It’s about accountability. You have to be able to realistically propose things and then follow through on them.”

Meredith — “We’re in a very interesting time period because we’re currently in the strategic planning process. Our biggest priority is making sure that there are as many student voices heard in the strategic planning process.  UGBC had an event two nights ago.  It was a meeting with a bunch of different administrators and students where they had conversations [about the strategic planning process].  That’s something we want to prioritize for the beginning of next Fall.  Having other events and conversations like that where student voices can be heard.  In terms of specific things…”

Russell — “The conduct audit is something we’re really interested in getting under way.  We think it’s realistic, feasible, and capable of being achieved in a relatively short time frame compared to other issues on our platform.”

Meredith — “Our platform is really a combination of those tangible goals that we think we can accomplish that go more into the day to day life of students.  The way we really framed it is through the more long-term things.  Continuing to advocate with the understanding that it’s not all going to change overnight or even in the year.”

Russell — “For example, this year, we saw UGBC talk a lot about racial inclusivity and creating an inclusive climate on campus with the release of its Inclusive Community Proposal.  The administration actually has been taking steps to make campus more inclusive.  And we’d like to continue working with the administration on making sure things we outlined in that proposal, things that we think are necessary to make Boston College a better and more inclusive community, come to fruition.”

How would you explain your mission statement: “Strength in Unity?”

Meredith — “Basically, that’s coming out of the idea that there’re a lot of different voices on campus, a lot of different opinions on the way things need to be done, but we’re not going to be able to be heard as a student body unless we can come together and present different opinions, but a unified idea of what needs to be done. We don’t want advocacy for certain issues to be coming primarily from UGBC or separately from different organizations not working collectively. We think there are a lot of different organizations on campus that do similar work, but there is a lot more strength if we can all come together and present as a more unified voice.  One of the things that we really want to focus on for next year is facilitating discussions and meetings between the members of Executive Council on UGBC as well as presidents of different organizations on campus, and really trying to facilitate strong relationships between all of us so it’s not a case-by-base basis of ‘hey you’re working on this maybe we can collaborate.’ When you have friendships from the beginning and you know all these different people, it’s a lot easier to collaborate.”

Russell — “It’s also about creating relationships between the student body and the administration, so that together as a BC community we can be working together. Everyone has an idea of what they think Boston College can be doing better, and we want to make sure that everyone remembers at the end of the day that that’s the end goal, and that we’re all working towards the same thing.”

How would you explain the ethos of Boston College?  In what way does your understanding of the community help you shape your platform?

Russell — “I think this is something my table talked a lot about at the BC Looking Forward Event. We came to the conclusion that Boston College is unique in that it creates well-rounded leaders who can actually understand a lot of the nuances of the world, taking into account the very unique education that we’ve been given here as a Jesuit school that focuses a lot on empathy and compassion, and understanding where others are at to produce a result. To me, that’s the ethos of Boston College; specifically the Jesuit portion is invaluable to our work here. We thought a lot about the issues empathetically and compassionately; about what students do want to see out of student government.  Running for these positions, this isn’t about us. We didn’t decide to run because of ourselves — we decided to run because we do think we can be effective in these roles, and that we can bring about changes that students do want to see, and advocate effectively for things that haven't been talked about before.”

Meredith — “I think we are a very passionate student body, and people tend to be very involved and tend to care a lot about what they’re doing outside of classes. For us it's really about letting people elevate their passions into productive advocacy work for next year, and finding people who have similar passions and being able to bring them together so they can work more effectively.”

Moving forward, in what ways do you hope to see your administration, in its implementation of policy initiatives, as a continuation of the previous administration, and in what ways do you hope to diversify?

Russell — “Every administration is to some extent a continuation of the last. That’s the way student government works, it’s the way major organizations work, but that’s not to say we’ll be the same in any way.”

Meredith — “Realistically each administration has less than a year to get anything done.  Especially right now for us in the transition phase, there is a lot of learning to be done from the past year's organizations and we're having those conversations right now. One of the things we really do want to focus on is building open productive relationships with different administrators right from the beginning. Not so much dealing with things as they come up, but taking a very proactive stance from the beginning and building those relationships so they're personable."

Russell — “Thomas and Olivia have worked so incredibly hard for the student body this year. We know from our work with them that they have worked tirelessly for UGBC and for the things that the student body cares about. That's something we respect them for very much and hope to emulate going into next year."

Is there anything else you’d like to relay?

Meredith — “We really want to encourage people to consider getting involved with UGBC for next year, particularly those who haven't been before. The applications are going to be open over the next month.  We strongly encourage anyone who has anything they want to change about the BC experience. We want as many strong leaders and voices in the room as possible”.

Russell — “Shaping the success of UGBC literally starts now. For the next year, our success will be determined by the passions of the people who decided to join or remain in the organization.  So we really would encourage anyone who cares about Boston College to see UGBC as an effective agent for change, because it can be so long as the right people are involved."

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Daniel Lee