The New England Classic fulfilled its promise to act on its annual NEC Policy Bracket on Wednesday when the satirical news outlet held a registered protest titled “Abolish UGBC” to lobby for the dissolution of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College on the Quad. This is the second event the usually private student publication has held this semester—back in March, the Classic hosted NECTalks, a parody of TedxBostonCollege.
A small but fervent faction of students gathered at 1 p.m. to pick up “Abolish UGBC” stickers and listen to members of the Classic air their grievances.
Josh Artman, editor-in-chief of the Classic and MCAS ’19, was the first to take the curb in front of Lyons Hall, explaining the origin of the protest. According to Artman, over 4,800 votes were cast on the NEC Policy Bracket, which is a parody of UGBC’s own policy bracket and was voted on through the Classic’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
After the final vote—in which “Abolish UGBC” triumphed over “Rename Fulton ‘East Stokes’”—the Classic tried to register a protest through UGBC’s own website, only to realize the form on which to do it was defunct. The Office of the Dean of Students now handles public demonstrations, and according to the office’s website, “demonstrations must be registered and approved in advance by the Dean of Students.”
The website also notes that BC “reserves the right to condition the time, place and manner of proposed demonstrations, and to withhold approval of proposed demonstrations [that] are intended or deemed likely to disrupt or interfere with University operations, or to adversely impact the mission of Boston College as a Jesuit, Catholic university.”
The Classic ultimately got the protest approved through the Office of the Dean of Students after a month of additional meetings with the Office of Student Involvement and Reed Piercey, former UGBC President and MCAS ’19.
“If you’re persistent, stubborn, and annoying enough not to give up, [Dean of Students Tom Mogan] will get back to you and approve your protest,” Artman said.
Artman then encouraged protestors to register their own protests to advocate for other policies of student interest, including “Zoo Pals in Lower” and “Comm Ave Bus Never Stops,” both of which were featured in the NEC Policy Bracket.
“If we can come together for this doofy little, little protest, there is still hope for the future—for serious and stupid issues alike,” he said.
Aside from speaking to the difficulty Classic faced when registering the protest, Artman affirmed that it is in fact possible for UGBC to be dissolved, citing the organization’s constitution. Article III, Section 4 of the UGBC Constitution states that, “No authority exists to dissolve the organization of UGBC without unanimous consent of the Student Assembly.”
After Artman spoke, Doug Girardot, a writer for the Classic, a contributor for The Heights, and MCAS ’21, justified the Classic’s position on UGBC and proposed a plan for the dissolution of the organization. Much of his speech reiterated points that were brought up in Girardot’s interview with The Heights.
Girardot stated that many of the points he would bring up in his speech were part of the memo that the Classic sent to the Office of the Dean of Students in order to get the protest approved, including UGBC’s budget, low voter turnout in elections, and stipends given to UGBC board members.
Girardot went into specifics about this year’s election’s voting numbers. The 2019 UGBC presidential election saw 25.8 percent of the student body vote, the lowest voter turnout of any UGBC election this decade.
“Given the low voter turnout of the election, there can be no legitimate claim on the part of UGBC that it truly represents the interests of the people—the students,” Girardot said.
Girardot further charged that UGBC’s annual budget of $329,138 is too large for an organization with little efficacy before calling for the University’s “abolishen [sic] [of] the evil empire of quarter zips.”
Girardot’s final demand was to end the stipends to UGBC executive board members—a point that Cait Vasington, a writer for the Classic and MCAS ’21, later expanded on. Vasington detailed her experience as an unpaid member of BC Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
Joe McCartney, an editor for the Classic and CSOM ’19, also took to the granite soapbox to jokingly impersonate Piercey. During his brief commentary, he reinforced the point that UGBC must vote to dissolve itself in order for the Classic’s protest to succeed.
“I want to congratulate you on an awesome protest,” “Red Piercey” said. “After it’s over, I’m going over to our student government and will single-handedly dismantle it entirely. Keep fighting the good fight.”
Piercey—who was in the audience—offered no comment at the time, but after the protest happily reflected on the event.
“This illustrates the importance of student protest and free expression on campus,” Piercey said in an interview with The Heights.
Jack Miller contributed reporting to this article.
Featured Image Courtesy of The New England Classic