New Constitution Would Mark Progress For UGBC
Despite Shortcomings, 'The Heights' Urges UGBC’s Voting Bodies To Pass The Proposed Constitution
Published: Sunday, February 3, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 3, 2013 23:02
Members of the UGBC, led by current executives from each of the four branches, have spent the past several months drafting a much-needed plan for a restructuring of the student government. If passed by the three voting bodies of UGBC next Sunday—the AHANA Leadership Council (ALC), the GLBTQ Leadership Council (GLC), and the Senate—the plan will make massive changes to the existing structure of UGBC.
In the process of creating the proposal for the new constitution, the current executives researched the student governments of numerous ACC and Ivy League schools. They started from scratch, hoping to create an entirely new UGBC that aims to accomplish three goals: enact change through policy and action, be more student-oriented, and provide better representation. Chris Osnato, president of UGBC and A&S ’13, said the committee aimed "to strip [UGBC] down to its bare parts and build it back up." The changes proposed are extremely significant—the new constitution is not a small step, but a giant leap. The Heights first thanks those involved for taking the initiative to create this proposal, and applauds their work in researching and compiling it. We especially appreciate that, after creating the proposed constitution, the committee allowed a vetting process, where members of the four branches of UGBC could make suggestions that would be considered for the new proposal. Encouraging this sort of collaboration ensures that the new constitution is not unilateral, but rather includes suggestions and perspectives from across the student body.
One major change to the UGBC constitution is the abolishment of the current Cabinet, which would be replaced by the executive council. The executive council would be composed of the president and the executive vice president—who would run for their positions on a single ticket—the press secretary, and five other vice presidents appointed by the president-elect. The vice presidents would be responsible for five different divisions in UGBC—financial affairs, programming, student organizations, diversity and inclusion, and student initiatives. This change would help to streamline and consolidate some of the current functions of UGBC. The divisions of each vice president represent the five most broad, pressing topics with which UGBC should be concerned, and with the vice presidents serving as mediators between the president and each division, important information could be communicated more efficiently than in the past. Each of the vice presidents could easily bring concerns from their particular division to the president, who would in turn be better informed about the workings of each division. Hopefully, this would remove superfluous bureaucracy, and would consolidate similar departments from each of the four branches—for example, those concerned with programming—thus allowing better collaboration and a more united front.
The Heights’ view of these proposed changes is not without reservations, however. Unlike the current UGBC, in which only the president and vice president receive stipends from the University, all six vice presidents would be paid for the year they serve if the proposal is passed, according to Osnato. This decision is highly questionable and represents a significant shortcoming in the proposed constitution. Although UGBC puts in significant work throughout the year, so do dozens of other student organizations that do not receive stipends. The student activities fee paid each year by every undergraduate is not used to pay stipends for other student leaders who provide significant services to the University, like the president of Eagle EMS or the chair of the Student Organization Funding Committee. Why, then, should it be used to pay stipends for seven members of UGBC? The most disturbing part, however, is that the five vice presidents would be appointed by the president and then approved by the student assembly. Although they would not be directly elected by the students, they would receive the students’ money nonetheless. The Heights urges UGBC to reconsider whether these stipends are necessary at all.
Another highly significant change in the proposed constitution is to integrate GLC and ALC into a single Division of Diversity and Inclusion. Within the division, GLC and ALC would exist as separate entities with separate chair people, but they would both be represented on the executive council by a single vice president. Integrating GLC and ALC could have mixed effects. On the one hand, uniting the departments into a single student government would send the message that Boston College’s student body is as united as its government—not divided by race or sexual orientation. In this way, initiatives that have traditionally been exclusively lobbied for by the GLC or the ALC would now become initiatives that the entire UGBC, and thus the entire student body, could support. It would be much more difficult for administrators or other students to write off issues as solely being GLC or ALC issues.