The final round in a series of debates between the two teams vying for the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) presidency and vice presidency took place on Sunday night in Robsham Theater. The candidates, Taylor Jackson and Alejandro Perez, both MCAS '21, as well as Michael Osaghae, MCAS '20, and Tiffany Brooks, MCAS '21, took the opportunity to clarify their platforms, share their thoughts and opinions on Boston College, and present their plans for the future of the university one last time.
In their opening statements, both candidate teams stressed the importance of capturing all that was good about Boston College and working to solve the challenges that face the institution through short- and long-term structural changes. Jackson and Perez proposed working with alumni as part of their mission of collaboration, commitment, and community. Similarly, Osaghae and Brooks emphasized being intentional, innovative, and intersectional.
When asked why students should care about UGBC, Jackson pointed out that effecting change on campus as an individual is incredibly difficult and that the student government serves as a resource for students looking to make a difference.
“[UGBC] should be an advocate for you," Osaghae added. "Students shouldn’t have to protest. Students shouldn’t have to cry in their roommates’ rooms. They shouldn’t have to go and experience pain at our university."
In light of the racist episode that occurred in Welch Hall last semester, Jackson and Perez suggested that UGBC is a platform for students to express their pain and concerns. It is also a tool to preempt such tragic moments by changing school culture and “keeping a foot in the door of the administration.” Echoing that sentiment, Osaghae and Brooks stated that student government serves as a means of amplifying student voices and opening a continuous dialogue between students and the university.
While discussing the ways in which UGBC promotes awareness of sexual assault, Osaghae and Brooks argued that BC ought to hold more mandatory seminars and lectures on the topic and that UGBC would collaborate with organizations like the Women’s Center and Bystander Intervention going forward. Furthermore, Osaghae emphasized that "this conversation needs to occur more frequently within our student body but also from men.”
Each team emphasized the need to educate people about the issue and give survivors a space to share their stories. Generally, both teams pointed to activism on campus as a sign that students are capable of making a difference.
"The majority of the time, change does not come just out of the blue or by coincidence," said Jackson. "It comes because somebody asks for it or somebody is fighting for it, and people are putting in the work to make it happen."
From there, the debate shifted to a conversation about how the candidates plan to interact with the Board of Trustees and push the agenda of the student body. Jackson and Perez called attention to the referendum on divestment from fossil fuels and the need to improve mental health resources on campus. Osaghae and Brooks discussed support for LGBTQ+ students and revamping core renewal classes to reflect actual cultural diversity.
The discussion ended with a Q&A session, during which candidates proposed plans to accommodate students from different religious backgrounds, build on the policies of the current UGBC administration, and make “short-term, pragmatic changes” to the university.
The debate was civil and productive, and the candidates were in agreement on nearly every topic. As each team issued their closing remarks, their message was clear: It is time for a structural change at BC, and UGBC is responsible, in part, for making that happen.
Elections will take place online on Thursday, Feb. 14. Students can cast their ballots from 12 a.m. to 4 p.m. via OrgSync. The ballot will also include the referendum question, "Should Boston College divest from the fossil fuel industry?"