Opinions, Editorials, Featured Column

Osaghae and Brooks Have Institutional Knowledge, Experience to Lead

The Heights Editorial Board endorses candidates Michael Osaghae, MCAS ’20 and Tiffany Brooks, MCAS ’21, for the 2019 Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) President and Executive Vice President (EVP).

The endorsement was made by the Heights Editorial Board after individual, hour-long meetings with the Osaghae and Brooks team as well as with Taylor Jackson, MCAS ’21, who is running for president, and Alejandro Perez, MCAS ’21, who is running as her EVP. Given Osaghae and Brooks’ well established connections with the administration, their team can be trusted to work productively with the University. Their approach is practical and incrementalist, and their previous UGBC experience will ensure that they are efficient in realizing their goals.They will have an idea of what works and what does not work in UGBC—and are therefore expected to avoid simple mistakes during their tenure.

After the racist incident in Welch Hall in December and a UGBC resolution that was almost completely rejected by the administration, the student body needs confident leaders who are capable of bringing meaningful change that is welcomed by both students and the University.

Osaghae and Brooks’ platform focuses on using UGBC as a “megaphone for student voices,” citing an increased need for dialogue between UGBC and the student body. For the team to be successful, they will need to direct these voices carefully, and push back on infeasible or simply impossible requests made by the students or the SA. It is imperative that the team focus their energy—and that of UGBC as a whole—on what can, realistically, be accomplished in tandem with the administration.

Jackson and Perez, in contrast, lack vital institutional knowledge and prerequisite experience in UGBC to lead the organization. During their meeting with The Heights, the team often spoke only generally about their initiatives, rather than referring to specific tactics or plans for implementation.

One of their more novel campaign ideas was a pen pal program with potential BC applicants. During their meeting with The Heights, the team seemed unaware that they would not be given access to names of applicants from the Office of Undergraduate Admission. Perhaps more striking was that they were unaware that a similar program—where current students speak at high schools near their hometowns—is already in place through the Student Admission Program (SAP), called “Outreach.”

Other inaccuracies from Jackson and Perez were also encountered. When asked about Joy Moore’s recent letter, they stated—wrongly—that the administration was willing to work on an admissions question about diversity per the UGBC resolution request. They also stated that the tuition dollars are invested in the endowment, which is untrue.

Perhaps most striking is Jackson’s comparative lack of connections to UGBC. The team has emphasized their status as “outsiders” as a positive. In this case, however, it is evident that being an “outsider” meant that the team lacked critical experience and insights into the organization and its standing relationship with the administration.

Osaghae has extensive experience as a previous member of the Student Assembly (SA), a resident assistant, and an orientation leader. He is also the chair of the AHANA+ Leadership Council. Brooks also has experience in the SA as the senator for the Music, Arts, and performance organizations. In their meeting with The Heights, the team was focused on their platform and elevating the student body, and also expressed their commitment to continuing initiatives from the current administration. Not only are Osaghae and Brooks familiar with UGBC history, but they also aren’t afraid to point out its past shortcomings.

Some meaningful, feasible platforms included free pads and tampons inside bathrooms and having a student artwork installation displayed throughout the campus.

Not all of Osaghae and Brooks’ ideas, of course, will be implemented. Solar panels and the Your UGBC Fund are unlikely to be taken into serious consideration by the administration, and it seems the team has not thoroughly discussed these ideas with the appropriate administrators. Their proposal of rotating dish stations at Mac and Stuart Hall would be expensive at the least and would warrant more research.

Further, the administration has repeatedly signaled that the proposal of a student on the Board of Trustees is a non-starter. The team’s idea of a faculty senate has been implemented twice before at BC and was last shut down in 2013. There is no reason why the issues that prevented the initiative’s success before would now be different. UGBC can continue to call for these sorts of changes, but it should not be the focus of the body. Resources must instead be allocated to feasible changes, or else UGBC will simply become a repetitious echo chamber.

Continued communication between UGBC and the administration is key, and Osaghae and Brooks understand that. Following the rejection of the UGBC resolution, Osaghae personally talked with Moore about why the resolution was rejected. Osaghae’s relationship with Moore and other administrators is paramount because UGBC does not have the authority to implement its resolutions, which are considered only as suggestions to the administration. Most sweeping resolutions—such as the one passed after the racist incident in December—are not realized by the University.

Because of this, the most important role for a UGBC president and EVP team is for them to be leaders on campus. In order to act as a megaphone for student voices, the UGBC president and EVP must be in constant dialogue with the administration, and make smart choices about what changes they bring attention to. Osaghae and Brooks’ experience in UGBC and inroads with the  administration, combined with their commitment to listening to students, will serve them well in their positions as student leaders.

February 11, 2019