Graphic courtesy of UGBC / Photo courtesy of Kate McCabe

UGBC Assembly Convenes to Address Acts of Racism and Propose Reforms

The UGBC Student Assembly convened on Monday night for an emergency meeting regarding the acts of racism that occurred on campus this past weekend. Hundreds of concerned students joined thirty-six senators to present and debate a resolution calling for immediate action and the implementation of long-lasting reforms in response to the horrifying incident and the perpetuation of racism and intolerance at BC.

Members of UGBC outlined a list of short-term demands that included the expulsion of Michael Sorkin, accommodations for Black students during finals, a statement issued by Fr. William P. Leahy on or before Dec. 15, and the use of external mental health resources for students of color.

The organization also detailed a series of long-term proposals intended to shift the culture and conversation at BC and develop a more inclusive environment. Proposals included the creation of a first-year seminar that addresses race and social identity, increased funding for the Thea Bowman AHANA Intercultural Center and Montserrat Coalition, the investment of $4 million in a five-year initiative to hire a more diverse faculty in all schools at the university, and the improvement of institutional structures and practices regarding race.

During the period for debate, senators ceded their time to spectators, allowing students unaffiliated with UGBC to ask questions and voice their opinions. The first person to speak requested a statement from Dean of Students Thomas A. Mogan, who stood silently at the back of the Murray Function Room. Mogan recounted and condemned the racist episode that took place Saturday night and assured those present that he would meet with a larger administrative assembly to discuss how to proceed.

“We’re here tonight to start to roll up our sleeves and get to work and see how we can make this community stronger and more inclusive as we move forward,” Mogan announced to the audience. He created a stir, however, when he told the gathering to “trust in the system.”

Some students suggested motions of their own, including measures to hold tenured professors accountable for comments and biases, give a more powerful voice to black athletes, and hire mental health professionals of color. All three proposals received the support of the senate and passed as amendments to the original resolution.

One individual noted that white students need to actively engage in conversations about race and privilege in order to change the culture on campus. “The onus should not be on black students to solve this,” another person commented.

When it came time to vote, thirty-five senators approved the resolution while one abstained. UGBC has requested a response from the University no later than Jan. 31, 2019. In the meantime, they have asked that students sign a petition, which includes the full list of their demands.

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