The 2019 elections for the positions of president and executive vice president of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) kicked off on Monday night in the Heights Room with each of the candidates presenting their platforms.
Michael Osaghae, MCAS '20, and Tiffany Brooks, MCAS '21, were the first candidate pair to present their platform, followed by Taylor Jackson and Alejandro Perez, both MCAS '21. The third pair, Reid Aguilar, MCAS '22, and David Crowley, CSOM '22, whose candidacy was also included in a press release to The Gavel, dropped out prior to the election kick-off.
Osaghae and Brooks organized their platform, "Connecting U With UGBC," around three major approaches, including intentionality, innovation, and intersectionality.
"Our vision for UGBC will be two-folded," said Osaghae. "It will embrace pragmatic, tangible short-term change and also have a long-term vision where UGBC and the student body on campus can be more connected and look towards the future."
Throughout their presentation, Osaghae and Brooks highlighted their commitment to working intentionally to increase resources for first-generation students and students from low-income families and marginalized populations, advocate for a faculty senate and student representation on the Board of Trustees, and increase transparency in communications between administrators and students.
"We’d like to build upon and improve upon DiversityEdu and the Bias Incident Reporting system, continue to advocate for increase faculty diversity, and get individual offices and departments to ensure that there is different voices in these departments and offices and our academic programs that can speak to different perspectives, but also harness the power of identity," said Osaghae.
Also, Osaghae and Brooks said they would advocate for more spaces for student organizations and resources for LGBTQ+ identifying students in the short-term, in addition to pushing to make the construction of a student center a priority in the coming years.
The two finished by sharing their interest in promoting sustainability on campus, calling for the addition of a rotating dish station to reduce plastic waste in McElroy, the use of solar panels on flat-topped buildings to reduce energy consumption, and divestment from industries connected to fossil fuels and private prisons.
"[We] will not only focus on creating more spaces on campus for [innovation] opportunities, but also focus on creating a sustainable campus...[that] will make change not just for us, but for future generations as well," said Brooks.
The second and only other pair of candidates, Jackson and Perez, shared their platform, which is based on "community, commitment, and collaboration."
In addition to expressing an interest in collaboration with both student organizations at BC and other universities' student governments, Jackson highlighted her interest in promoting more collaboration with alumni. Jackson spoke of her experience on the Endeavor retreat in January, where she met multiple BC alumni who expressed interest in reaching out to current students following the incident of racist vandalism in Welch Hall last December.
"I know alumni have stories to tell that are very similar to things that are going on on campus right now," said Jackson. "It's still happening and I think that it's important to know that to push to make for some real change."
Further, Jackson and Perez called for UGBC to continue to push the university administration to take more pro-active steps to prevent bias-related incidents in the future, in addition to supporting and expanding programs such as the Bowman Advocates, which support conversations surrounding diversity and identity.
"People have a difficult time when it comes to having uncomfortable conversations, they just don’t know how," said Perez. "We want to push through that more, we want to facilitate...these conversations that they may find difficult about issues of race, diversity, [and] identity because obviously, we do need to have these conversations."
The pair also objected to the recent admissions decision that replaces Early Action with Early Decision due to concerns that this change will result in less diversity among the student body and called for divestment from the fossil fuel industry.
"We want to create and continue open conversations, engaging gradual change instead of big pushes, because I think that would give us more leeway," said Jackson. "We push gradual change more efficiently than we push massive changes."
Before the election, students will have the opportunity to hear from candidates at the Diversity and Inclusion debate tonight at 7 p.m. in the Heights Room and at the Final Debate on Sunday at 7 p.m. in Robsham. Students will receive the ballot by email on Feb. 14.
Additionally, the ballot will include the referendum question, "Should Boston College divest from the fossil fuel industry?" The question was added to the ballot after Climate Justice at Boston College (CJBC) collected more than 1,000 signatures that supported the addition to the ballot.
"This referendum is not a new call, but simply another clear and official way of demonstrating student support for divestment," said CJBC member Kyle Rosenthal, MCAS '21, in an email to The Gavel regarding the purpose of the referendum.
"BC is getting left behind morally and even financially as the fossil fuel industry tumbles compared to cheaper, renewable alternatives," said Rosenthal. "We must continue to remind BC, and students, that action can be taken to reduce the effects of climate change. Divestment is one such solution on which we can act now."