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Achampong, King Win Straw Poll at Second UGBC Presidential Debate

Akosua Achampong and Tt King, MCAS ’18, won Sunday night’s Elections Committee (EC) debate among the three teams running for Undergraduate Government of Boston College president, according to a straw poll of audience members.

The candidates were asked for their views on student activism, reforms to BC’s drinking policy, and how they would use their three opportunities to present to the Student Life Committee of the Board of Trustees.

Each team was given three minutes to respond to questions directed specifically at them, and the other two teams had one minute to answer the question and ask their own questions. Each team had a 30-second rebuttal that they could use only once in the debate to respond to the other teams’ questions.

Achampong criticized Raymond Mancini, CSOM ’19, for a response he gave at last week’s diversity and inclusion debate, and throughout the rest of the debate, Mancini continued to question Achampong’s leadership credentials and commitment to the race.

Asked about halfway through the debate about a specific diversity program he would seek to create as UGBC president, Mancini mentioned an athletics-focused “Hype Up the Heights” event. Last year, Matt Ulrich and John Miotti, both MCAS ’17, suggested a similar event, which Mancini’s running mate, Matt Batsinelas, CSOM ’19, said Ulrich and Miotti encouraged them to use.

Achampong brought up a moment from last Tuesday’s debate, in which Mancini answered a question about protests by criticizing the Elections Committee for holding the campaign kickoff event during men’s basketball’s game against Louisville on Feb. 4. Achampong said Mancini had been evading the question.

“The fact that you’re saying we evaded the question is a personal attack,” Mancini said, claiming that Achampong and King’s team had endorsed disparaging comments made against Mancini and Batsinelas on Facebook. Mancini was referring to comments made on a live stream of last week’s DI debate that appeared on Achampong and King’s campaign Facebook page.

“It’s one thing to critique our platform, it’s another thing to critique us personally, and the fact that you did that shows a deficiency in leadership,” he said.

King and Achampong said in an interview Wednesday night that their team had received a warning for a comment on the live stream. The two said the comment appeared to disparage Mancini by saying he did not have any LGBTQ-identifying friends.

The exchange continued several minutes later during a response to a question about mental health resources on campus, when Mancini demanded an apology from King and Achampong. He said they should explain to the audience why they had received a warning from the Elections Committee. Achampong did not respond. Mancini also criticized Achampong and King’s commitment to the election.

“How can you say that you’re for all students if you didn’t go to Newton?” Mancini said, referring to his and Batsinelas’s efforts to campaign to freshmen on Newton Campus.

King and Achampong had been mistakenly told by their liaison to the EC that campaigning on Newton, designated for when BC was closed for snow last Thursday, had been cancelled. The EC decided to grant an extension for campaigning on Newton, but Casey Doyle, co-chair of the EC and CSOM ’17, said the extension was due to an internal miscommunication in the committee, not a specific request from another team.

“That speaks a lot about the Elections Committee,” Mancini responded.

Asked what specific measures his administration would take to make sure students do not feel alienated by UGBC policies they disagree with, Dan Wu, MCAS ’18, mentioned his team’s idea to create a council of different student groups that could help educate and mediate conflicts that arise.

Another question asked what policies the candidates would pursue to make sure first-generation college students enter BC on an equal footing with their peers. Achampong said she has close relationships in the Learning to Learn Office and the Montserrat Coalition, which provide resources to high-need students.

Batsinelas, a first-generation college student himself, touted his background as a licensed financial planner as something that would help in improving financial literacy programming. He repeated a claim he made at last week’s debate that UGBC’s budget spent more on teddy bears—an initiative that he says costs $1,500—than on resources for first-generation students.

Achampong challenged his claim, saying that $2,500 had just been allocated to Learning to Learn from UGBC. Batsinelas said that was due to a lack of transparency in UGBC, but Achampong said it had to do with UGBC’s budget being published once every quarter.

“It’s just not there yet, you’re reviewing a quarter that has passed,” she said.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

February 13, 2017