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UGBC Stages Five-Week Endeavor To Engage Students On Social Issues

For the next five weeks, the Undergraduate Government of Boston College will be working to educate students on the key elements of the current administration’s platform.

The program, titled Your UGBC, launches Monday. The group’s efforts will be focused on engaging students—specifically those who do not typically follow UGBC—with literature and topical events.

Each week UGBC will focus on one of the goals that Thomas Napoli, UGBC president and MCAS ’16, and Olivia Hussey, executive vice president and MCAS ’17, outlined in their presidential platform. The goals, labeled the “big five,” are to expand mental health and awareness, protect free expression rights, increase resources for LGBTQ students, create a more inclusive environment for students of color, and improve the freshman year transition process.

The week that aims to expand the mental health and awareness goals begins today. Part of this initiative includes providing a tangible, visual resource on each Wednesday. This week, UGBC will provide a quarter-sheet of mental health resources to be handed out by resident assistants in student dorms and by representative of UGBC in the middle campus quads. The information will also be available online.

“It doesn’t mean that we won’t be working on the other things or some new initiatives but these are the ones that we just want to stand out and go all the way in on,” Hussey said.

“We want to be really clear with what we’re advocating for.” -Thomas Napoli, UGBC president and MCAS ’16

Napoli and Hussey acknowledge several criticisms often levied at UGBC, especially that they need to do a better job of reaching out to the student body. This five-week project is an attempt to begin a dialogue with any student who wants to participate.

“Students may not care about every single one of our five big goals, but it is likely that they care about one of the five,” Napoli said in an email.

This is the first UGBC-wide campaign that Napoli and Hussey have seen in their time here, Napoli said, because aspects of the programming and proposals come from all across the student government.

These five topics are the main areas that the Napoli and Hussey administration intend to focus on this year.

For mental health awareness, for example, they will be working on proposing specific plans, including hiring two to three more mental health professionals.

The specific proposals are not the main idea of this program, Napoli said.

“While we have our own specific actions plans that we will release each week, we also want students and community members thinking about their own proposed solutions,” Napoli said in an email.

Rather, they want to engage with the student body through events and interaction, Hussey said. Kevin Breel, a comedian who focuses on depression, will speak Tuesday as part of this week’s theme.

By doing smaller things, like tabling in the quads and encouraging students to use Campus Voice, an online complaint system for students, Hussey hopes they will be able to relate to groups of students that are not as outwardly passionate about social justice issues.

One of the early concerns about the five-week plan was that the goals Hussey and Napoli have in mind are too lofty and that some students will not care. They developed the plan of releasing literature on their initiatives each Wednesday to reach students who otherwise do not follow UGBC’s work.

“The inspiration for this is realizing that we want to be really clear with what we’re advocating for,” Napoli said. “Advocating is a long process and sometimes it works out in your favor and sometimes it takes longer. and we want students to know that this is the conversation that’s going on.”

Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor

September 20, 2015

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