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Four Teams Announce Candidacy for UGBC Presidency, VP

The race for president and executive vice president of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College kicked off Thursday night, with four teams announcing their candidacy. The election will take place on Feb. 11.

As was the case with last year’s UGBC executive election, there was overlap between the teams’ platforms. Each team touched on a need for more diversity and inclusion, expanded funding for student support offices, and effective problem-solving. The four teams’ platforms included many of the same policies, including advocacy for free distribution of menstrual products, the expansion of University Counseling Services, and the creation of an LGBTQ+ resource center—which the University has faced repeated criticism for not establishing in the past. 

John Gehman, chair of the UGBC Intersectional Experience Committee and MCAS ’21, presented his platform first, along with his running mate Leonardo Escobar, a UGBC senator and MCAS ’22.

Gehman and Escobar are running on the slogan “Envisioning a BC worth fighting for,” with three pillars to their campaign: universality, intersectionality, and boldness. In the team’s presentation, they placed much of their emphasis on making BC more inclusive, and Gehman pointed out his identity as a “queer student of color” while discussing diversity on campus.

Gehman and Escobar’s platform includes advocating for increased funding for the Montserrat Office, the establishment of an LGBTQ+ center, the hiring of a full-time Muslim chaplain hired in Campus Ministry, the creation of a full-time director for Transfer Student Affairs, increased financial aid, and BC’s divestment from fossil fuels.

UGBC presidential candidate Christian Guma, CSOM ’21, and vice presidential candidate Kevork Atinizian, UGBC senator and CSOM ’22, were the next team to present, kicking off with their slogan, “Make the Heights home.”

Guma and Atinizian are running on a three-pillar platform—accessibility, inclusion, and improvement. The pair announced that they would not be taking the personal stipends typically allocated to UGBC’s president and executive vice president. Guma is the only candidate not currently involved in UGBC.

Among the initiatives in Guma and Atinizian’s platform are advocating for expanded financial aid, more funding for the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center, the establishment of a space for LGBTQ+ students, the expansion of free menstrual products on campus, more popular artists at BC’s concerts, and a collaboration with rideshare companies such as Uber for discounted rides.

Dennis Wieboldt and Lorenzo Leo, both UGBC senators and MCAS ’23, were next to announce their candidacy for president and executive vice president, respectively. Wieboldt—who presented alone, as Leo was in class—argued that the team’s youth as an advantage with their slogan, “It’s time for fresh energy on the Heights.” In particular, Wieboldt focused on restructuring UGBC.

Wieboldt said that it is unusual for freshmen to seek positions as UGBC executives but said that he believes their “record of accomplishment poises [them] to be UGBC’s next best leaders.” The pair listed three goals for UGBC in their presentation: changing the way the organization works internally, the way it works with the student body, and the way it works with the administration.

The Wieboldt-Leo platform includes a new UGBC constitution, new UGBC senate rules, and more transparency in UGBC funding. Wieboldt particularly criticized the University-funded UGBC fall retreat, which cost over $12,000 in the 2017-2018 year. Their platform also includes advocating for an LGBTQ+ resource center and the introduction of printers in all residential halls.

Czar Sepe, chair of the Institutional Innovations Committee and MCAS ’21, is also running for UGBC president, along with John Bracher, UGBC senator and MCAS ’22. The pair’s slogan is “To strive to greater Heights.”

Sepe opened with a personal story, talking about his Filipino ancestry and how his parents, who now work as nurses, immigrated to the United States in the ’90s.

“The two values that they’ve instilled in me would be doing what you love and serving others,” Sepe said.

Sepe and Bracher are also running on a three-point platform: working toward practical solutions with visible, effective impacts on campus; partnering with the Campus Activities Board (CAB), BC Athletics, and Campus Ministry to cultivate respect for all; and setting a precedent for UGBC to work effectively with the administration.

The Sepe-Bracher platform includes initiatives for more student-administrator forums, improved implementation of the menstrual product program, better Eagle Escort service, a MentalHealthEdu module for freshmen similar to DiversityEdu, better recycling practices in residential halls, and more collaboration with CAB.

Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Staff

January 24, 2020

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