Opinions, Editorials, Featured Column

Achampong and King for UGBC President, EVP

Three pairs of candidates are running for the Undergraduate Government of Boston College president and executive vice president: Akosua Achampong and Tt King, both MCAS ’18; Raymond Mancini and Matt Batsinelas, both CSOM ’19; and Daniel Wu and Jack Kelly, both MCAS ’18. Next year’s UGBC president and EVP will be most successful if they develop a positive relationship with administrators who can enact concrete change, following suit from Russell Simmons, UGBC president and Meredith McCaffrey, EVP, both MCAS ’17. The winning team will also be responsible for representing the student body, which last semester expressed frustrations with some of the University’s current policies, and continuing the progress made by previous UGBC administrations.

The next leaders of UGBC will be responsible for instituting and developing courses of action that will further advance the goals of the student body. These tasks require capable and ambitious leadership, as well as ample experience working with administrators, faculty, and UGBC alike. For these reasons, The Heights endorses Akosua Achampong and Tt King for UGBC president and EVP.

Achampong and King bring the experience and leadership capability necessary to effectively lead UGBC and represent the interests of the student body. As chair of the AHANA Leadership Council, Achampong has experience in a UGBC leadership position, a valuable asset in gaining the organization’s support for her proposals and understanding its inner workings. She has additional leadership experience from her work as a Montserrat Student Ambassador and as a recruiter for the company Jopwell, which promotes diversity in the workplace. During her work at BC in UGBC and external advocacy, Achampong has developed strong relationships with a number of administrators, including Dean of Students Thomas Mogan and Vice President for Student Affairs Barbara Jones, who are key figures in achieving the goals of the student body.

Although not a member of UGBC, King is a prominent student leader on campus. She is an active volunteer in the Women’s Center and in the Bystander Sexual Assault Prevention Program. King, along with Achampong, was a lead organizer of the Silence is Violence March, a demonstration in September that attracted hundreds of students and called on the University to break its silence regarding the inclusion of marginalized student groups on campus. Such experience working with student leaders and members of the administration will prove imperative for Achampong and King to succeed in office.

Achampong and King differentiate themselves from their opponents by presenting viable ways to continue the gradual progress that UGBC has achieved over the last few administrations. In order to make substantial social change at the University, initiatives must be carried on for multiple years under several administrations. Many of the goals included in their platform have also been the goals of previous candidates and student organizations, such as the creation of an LGBTQ resource center and an increase in the allocation of resources to University Counseling Services (UCS). While other candidates have made these goals a part of their platforms as well, Achampong and King have devised new approaches and practical plans for eventually achieving these objectives. For example, they propose funding housing during academic breaks for students affected by President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban using revenue generated by Diversity and Inclusion Programming.

Achampong and King maintain a realistic vision of what they can accomplish if they are elected. They are not afraid, however, to begin conversations about potentially controversial goals that may not  be accomplished until future administrations. This demonstrates Achampong and King’s knowledge of the inner workings of UGBC and what it takes to succeed. They understand that they do not need to start from scratch, but rather need to build upon the foundations laid out by prior leadership in order to ensure continued progress.

As a UGBC senator, Mancini has experience working within the organization. Mancini and Batsinelas present useful ideas in reforming the UGBC voting process and increasing the organization’s transparency. They also support the University increasing funding for UCS and the creation of an LGBTQ resource center, although Mancini voted against a resolution to create such a center previously, citing the need for a specific plan rather than a broad idea. Mancini and Batsinelas, however, lack the practical planning that Achampong and King bring to the table.

Their ambiguous approach to managing the University’s free speech policy with the interests of student advocacy organizations such as Climate Justice at Boston College and Eradicate BC Racism creates the potential for conflicts to arise. Their platform proposes “closely monitoring demonstrations,” but fails to specify how exactly this will mitigate the concerns of the administration and students. While Mancini and Batsinelas provide ideas for assisting different groups on campus, such as giving transfer students housing preference and increasing the inclusion of international students, it is unclear, based on their platform, how they would go about accomplishing these goals.

Wu and Kelly are running on a platform of “Technology, Cohesivity, and Connectivity,” advocating for the advancement of the University’s technological resources as a solution to many of its problems. The candidates are right to point out that the University’s current technological resources must be updated, and the next UGBC president and EVP would be smart to pursue such improvements. Wu and Kelly, however, lack the relationships with administrators, institutional knowledge of UGBC, and concrete plans to carry out their goals.

This is not to say that Achampong and King are perfect candidates. Their alignment with some of the positions of clubs such as CJBC and Eradicate could potentially lead to difficult conflicts with the administration, which recently sanctioned members of Eradicate. Ensuring that they maintain a productive relationship with the administration, despite ideological differences, is essential to the success of their UGBC administration.

If elected, Achampong and King should consider some of the other candidates’ ideas, including proposals about technological improvements and the reformation of UGBC’s voting process. In order to fully represent the student body, it is necessary to take ideas from all spheres into consideration.

Despite potential difficulties, Achampong and King remain the most realistic about what they can accomplish during their time at BC, and have a proven record of working for positive change and promoting the diverse concerns of the student body. While each of this year’s candidates agree that UGBC is meant to serve as an advocacy organization on behalf of the student body, Achampong and King have separated themselves as the most qualified candidates to lead the organization’s initiatives.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

February 13, 2017