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UGBC Student Assembly Postpones Vote on Promoting Spirituality

A vote on a resolution for the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) to affirm spiritual formation was postponed on Sunday night. The resolution was proposed by Raymond Mancini, CSOM ’19, and Michael Proietta, MCAS ’19. After presenting, discussing, and debating the resolution, the Student Assembly (SA) moved to postpone the vote to next Sunday, allowing the two co-sponsors of the resolution time to amend the bill.

The proposed resolution called for an active affirmation of spiritual formation by UGBC. The bill echoed BC’s values of developing and educating the whole person—intellectually, socially, and spiritually. This affirmation of spirituality would not focus on certain religions, but rather would encourage and welcome people of all faiths to explore their spirituality and engage in faith-based dialogue. Proietta and Mancini asserted that while UGBC was created to enrich the lives of students academically, socially, and spiritually, currently, UGBC has a heavy focus on social advocacy and needs to direct some resources to spirituality.

Proietta and Mancini stressed that UGBC has lacked influence and focus within the spiritual realms of students’ lives. Proietta sees spiritual reflection, dialogue, and formation as an integral facet of human development, and thus important to UGBC’s goal of enriching the student body.

“If we were to affirm the importance of spirituality in education, I think that it would better UGBC’s relationship with the Boston College administration, and the community as a whole,” Mancini added.

In the future, Proietta sees the establishment of a greater committee dedicated to spiritual formation.

Speaking in support of the bill, Hagop Toghramadjian, MCAS ’17, mentioned the division in the nation right now and provided an anecdote of how spirituality brought him and his Muslim neighbor together.

“Not much brings us together,” Toghramadjian said. “But I think that spirituality can.”

After a brief question and answer period, the members of SA began the debate period. The members voiced their support, concerns, and suggestions about the proposal during the debate.

A few recurring concerns were expressed by SA. Several members asked for Proietta and Mancini to give examples of practical applications that the proposal would bring. They wanted to hear what specific actions UGBC would take to promote spirituality and how that would differ from the existing spiritual organizations, such as Campus Ministry, that welcome students from all faith backgrounds.

“Not much brings us together. But I think that spirituality can.”

— Hagop Toghramadjian, MCAS ’17

This bill, which does not have a clear action path for deliverables, is meant to send a message to BC’s community that focuses on inclusivity as it relates to spirituality, Mancini and Proietta said. Historically, UGBC has focused on issues within student lives that they feel the University has neglected to address adequately. This resolution differs in that there are established University organizations that address faith. UGBC’s status as an advocacy organization

There was an apparent split in the assembly. While many agreed with the proposal and felt that they should already have this resolution, others felt that the proposal isolated those who did not identify as spiritual, directly contradicting UGBC’s goal of being inclusive to all students. Others raised the concern of the timing of the bill, given the distress many are feeling on campus after a divisive election outcome.

After debating, the SA decided to postpone the vote, and they proposed amendments to the bill. The assembly members suggested changes be made to the wording of the proposal as well as to include an emphasis on advocating for all faiths.

“Spirituality can and does inspire people to see beyond their own experiences and their own interests, and it inspires people to come together in the name of dignity and of love,” Toghramadjian said. “It’s not the only way to do this, but it is a way for people to come together.”

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor

November 14, 2016

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