To Promote Fairness, UGBC Presidential Nominees Request Change in Debate Preparations
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To Promote Fairness, UGBC Presidential Nominees Request Change in Debate Preparations

In light of their desire for increased transparency within the Undergraduate Government of Boston College, the presidential campaign for Elizabeth Foley, MCAS ’17, and Joseph McCarthy, CSOM ’17, is requesting a change in the construct of the UGBC debate.

Currently, questions for the debate are drafted by members of the Elections Committee, UGBC’s GLTBQ and AHANA Leadership Councils, and anonymous students. The questions, which focus on current campus issues and the candidates’ plans to reform UGBC, are then presented by the Elections Committee.

While the Elections Committee is under the Office of Student Involvement and a completely separate entity from UGBC, ALC and GLC are groups within UGBC. Because of this, Foley and McCarthy see GLC and ALC’s involvement in drafting the questions as a conflict of interest.

“We did not receive any debate questions in advance, nor was there any improper assistance given to us.”

-UGBC president Thomas Napoli, MCAS ’16

They hope to discontinue UGBC’s involvement from the debate, as they think that candidates who were involved with UGBC prior to the election are at an advantage. Neither Foley nor McCarthy were involved with UGBC before announcing their campaign for president and executive vice president.

“We are not targeting ALC or GLC from the drafting process, rather directing our concern with UGBC as a whole,” Joseph Arquillo, the team’s campaign manager and LSOE ’17, said in an email. “We contend that the questions should be asked from outside of the organization to prevent any problems due to a candidate’s position or influence. Particularly, due to Olivia’s EVP [Executive Vice President] position, we strongly feel there is a conflict of interest.”

Last year, Arquillo was part of the campaign team for current UGBC president Thomas Napoli, MCAS ’16, and current executive vice president Olivia Hussey, MCAS ’17. According to Arquillo, Napoli and Hussey knew of the questions prior to the night of the debate because of their involvement with UGBC. However, as a member of the team without a managing role, he did not attend meetings with senior campaign leaders.

“I must respond, however, to the request’s underlying assertion that someone or some division in UGBC is unfairly favoring the candidates previously involved with the organization,” Napoli said. “Not only is this untrue, it is not possible.”

“We did not receive any debate questions in advance, nor was there any improper assistance given to us,” he said.

Napoli also thinks it is important for ALC and GLC to be involved with the debate, as they play a crucial role in discerning the teams’ stances on issues. Cassidy Gallegos, a candidate in last year’s presidential election and LSOE ‘16, agrees with Napoli about the importance of ALC and GLC within the debate.

Gallegos is unsure whether candidates had the questions prior to the debate, but she does not believe that, either way, it made a large impact on her campaign’s efforts or outcome.

While the rules of the debate prohibit students from sharing questions with candidates, Foley and McCarthy still hope to work with the Elections Committee in the coming weeks to reform the process of debate. The Elections Committee plans to meet Thursday night to discuss issues of transparency.

“I have never really considered whether or not that was a conflict of interest, and maybe that is something we should talk about with ALC and GLC,” Rachel Mills, president of the Elections Committee and MCAS ’16, said. “We need to make sure that the individuals who are creating and forming the questions are completely separate from the teams that are campaigning and every member that is involved with the campaigns.”

In years past, GLC and ALC held a separate debate for candidates that solely focused on issues of diversity on campus. Due to candidates’ busy schedules during campaign season, GLC and ALC partnered with the Elections Committee and held one, combined debate.

“There is only so much that we can do in terms of getting our message out as candidates,” Foley said. “I think that has to be a true message and it has to be one that we can get a true sense of the candidates. I think that is something that is lost if you are prepared for the questions.”

Correction: this article has been updated to say that Joe Arquillo was not the campaign manager for Olivia Hussey and Thomas Napoli and that he did not attend meetings with senior campaign leaders. 

Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor

February 10, 2016
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