The Senate of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College passed a resolution on Tuesday night to invite two senatorial candidates, incumbent Senator Ed Markey, BC ’68 and BC Law ’72, and his Democratic challenger, U.S. Representative Joe Kennedy III, to speak on campus at a town hall.
The resolution was sponsored by Crystal Pu, UGBC president pro tempore and Lynch ’20. Twenty-two senators voted in favor of the resolution, and one voted against.
Pu explained that the objective of the event would be to provide an environment to foster genuine interaction between students and the candidates, in which students would be permitted to ask spontaneous questions.
“I think the purpose of this event is to really give [students] the opportunity to get to know the candidates,” Pu said. “It feels very different to learn about things from secondary sources than from when you actually get to ask them questions and interact with them—you get to know and understand them better.”
Pu said that the University would benefit from the publicity of having prominent figures on campus, and the town hall would contribute to the competitiveness and prestige of BC. Pu also said that, as students in Massachusetts, it would be advantageous for BC students to learn firsthand about the policies that are likely to affect them.
Various members of the UGBC Senate voiced concern that the proposed resolution blurred the line between a town hall event and a campaign event. Members cautioned that if the politicians were to speak at BC regarding issues related to their platforms ahead of the 2020 state primary election, the event would end up resembling a campaigning event, and they suggested alternatives to the proposed resolution to make the event seem less like a campaign rally.
“I would propose and recommend that instead of having the two [speak] at the same time, we should have them at different times,” said Jack Bracher, a candidate for UGBC vice president and MCAS ’22. “Instead of having them speak on voting issues in the election, I think it would be better to give them a topic like leadership in a time of crisis.”
Pu responded by saying that having both individuals speak at the same event would allow the event to flow more consistently, as the topics they would discuss surrounding their initiatives would likely overlap.
Another issue that members brought to the attention of the Senate was concern over funding for the event, including costs of security. They asked if the funding would come from UGBC or from selling tickets to students.
Tiffany Brooks, vice president of UGBC and MCAS ’21, clarified that the money for such an event would have to come from within the UGBC budget. She said that there is a Senator Initiative Fund, but it is only $1,000, which may not be sufficient for an event of this caliber. Michael Osaghae, president of UGBC and MCAS ’20, suggested to the Senate that it could look into allocating money from elsewhere in the UGBC budget to cover the costs of this event.
Despite some senators’ concerns regarding the nature of the event, the resolution was overall supported because of the opportunity it would provide students, according to Peyton Brown, a UGBC senator and MCAS ’22.
“I think it’s important for BC to have candidates and to have politicians on campus because they are people of prominence and stature, and I think it is positive … for [students] to engage with them,” he said. “It’s always important to ask lots of questions, and I think that’s what we intend to do.”
Featured Image by Bridget Clark / Heights Staff
Update: The article initially listed Ed Markey with the wrong graduation year. His BC Law graduation year is 1972 and not 1968.