Opinions, Editorials

Encouraging Changes In UGBC And Programming

Over the summer, UGBC completely redesigned its website, which is hosted on Boston College’s OrgSync site. The update significantly improves on the old version—which was static, hard to navigate, and rarely used—by combining an intuitive layout with valuable content. It promises to serve as a useful resource for students searching for information about different aspects of life at BC.

The new website compiles a guide to services offered by UGBC. On the main page, students can easily access PEPs, a BC-specific professor evaluation system; Laundry View, an electronic tracking system for campus washers and dryers; and the new textbook exchange. Additionally, the site includes important information about the University and about UGBC itself. The University information is formatted in what UGBC has labeled “Dummies’ Guides,” which cover many University policies, including the Help Seeking Policy, the Harassment Policy, and the Disabilities Grievance Policy.

The UGBC information contains a detailed breakdown of each of the divisions of the organization, complete with a staff list and messages from the vice presidents. The site also includes an itemized list of all of the goals and campaign promises of the administration, categorized by stage of completion. Both of these aspects represent an important step toward a more transparent student government. With complete staff lists online, students can know what to expect not only from their representatives, but also from the organization writ large. With the organized list of initiatives, students can hold Nanci Fiore-Chettiar, president of UGBC and A&S ’15, and Chris Marchese, executive vice president of UGBC and A&S ’15, responsible for fulfilling their campaign promises.

Another transparency initiative, begun by the previous administration, was posting important UGBC documents and meeting minutes online. Although the idea was sound, its execution was poor, as it was difficult to find the documents and folders on the old website. The new “Filing Cabinet” feature is a significant upgrade to the old system, providing a centralized location for all UGBC documents, which includes all of their work thus far. Throughout the year, UGBC should continue to upload new documents and maintain the feature’s utility.

While UGBC was revamping its website, the new independent programming board—the Campus Activities Board (CAB)—finalized the details of its new structure. Under this structure, CAB members are not elected. Even without a democratic mandate, the new board should keep in mind that it still has an obligation to use its portion of the Student Activities Fee (SAF) responsibly. Just as UGBC did last year, the board should publish its budget, so that students know how their money is being spent and can raise objections if they do not agree with the direction the board is taking.

Last year, the committee that created the structure of the new board was unsure of which former programming bodies would be left intact and which would be discarded. It is encouraging that CAB is continuing the successful and popular BC2Boston department, which frequently sold all of its allocated tickets to events in the city such as a performance of Book of Mormon. One notable improvement is the dissolution of Nights on the Heights (NOTH), a change for which this newspaper has frequently advocated. An organization that was dedicated to providing alternative programming every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night and constrained by University guidelines on event start times, NOTH’s events were often expensive to host and poorly attended. Now, CAB is free to allocate its budget as it deems appropriate. Hopefully, they will use the opportunity to host less frequent, more popular events that will draw many different students from across campus while still offering alternative activities for students who do not wish to drink.

Over the summer, UGBC and CAB made significant changes that have the potential to benefit the student body. Both organizations must keep in mind that the outward appeal—whether that be of a new website or of a new structure unencumbered by the expectations of former organizations—must be followed up with substantive action for the changes to have any lasting significance.

Featured Image by Alex Gaynor / Heights Senior Staff

September 4, 2014