Opinions, Editorials, Featured Column

‘The Heights’ Endorses John Gehman and Leonardo Escobar for UGBC President and Vice President

The Heights endorses candidates John Gehman, MCAS ’21, and Leonardo Escobar, MCAS ’22, for the 2020 Undergraduate Government of Boston College president and vice president. 

The endorsement is based on each group’s policy proposals and the 45-minute meetings The Heights had with each of the four teams running. Out of the four teams, Gehman and Escobar best understand the workings of the University and how to effectively advocate for their policy ideas. 

The other teams—Christian Guma, CSOM ’21, and Kevork Atinizian, CSOM ’22; Dennis Wieboldt, MCAS ’23, and Lorenzo Leo, MCAS ’23; and Czar Sepe, MCAS ’21, and Jack Bracher, MCAS ’22—lacked the knowledge and understanding of student issues and administrative processes to be as successful in the role.

Gehman and Escobar said that conversations are not enough and acknowledge the challenges past UGBC administrations have had with putting their proposals into effect. They emphasize working collaboratively with administrators, not combatively, while utilizing social pressure to ensure their ideas are realized. 

Their policies are a mix of short-term goals and long-term plans that may extend beyond their time in office. They propose expanding the Cura Personalis Period project to all female-identified and gender-neutral bathrooms to increase free access to menstrual products. 

They are the only candidates to propose an “ABC” grading system, which would drop grades below a C from students’ transcripts for classes taken during their  first semester freshman year, allowing students to discover new passions without the fear of it damaging their transcript.

Gehman said he has created the “Being Not-Rich at Boston College” resource guide, which the team plans to circulate to all Montserrat and first-generation students. The team plans on advocating for subsidized transportation for Montserrat students in the Lynch School of Education and Human Development and Connell School of Nursing who must travel for education practica and clinicals, respectively. Students are currently required to pay on their own, which presents a financial hardship to some. Gehman and Escobar demonstrate a clear understanding of challenges students from low-income backgrounds are facing at BC and how UGBC can advocate for them.

Gehman and Escobar are a dynamic team that The Heights believes will work effectively for the entire student body if elected. The two are compatible running mates who each prioritize different policies and complement each other well—they are capable of working together at the executive level because they have shown an understanding of each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and areas of interest. Out of the four teams, they are the most informed and most aware of a variety of student needs. By highlighting intersectionality and making it a priority throughout their campaign, the pair plans to implement policies that can positively affect nearly every member of the student body, especially students who have been historically marginalized.

UGBC is a body that can make suggestions via resolutions or meetings with the BC administration—there are few things that UGBC can simply do. Its role is one of advocacy. UGBC can and should speak for student interests as an aggregate. Through resolutions and meetings with the administration, UGBC puts pressure on BC to implement certain policies and campaign promises. It is through this method that UGBC  can effect change on campus.

Most of the policies Gehman and Escobar propose will most likely not be implemented—and the same goes for each of the other teams’ platforms. Gehman and Escobar presented the most well-thought-out, well-researched platform of each of the four teams. They are the most likely to be able to effect change in the areas they seek to. They also demonstrate awareness of the fact that larger projects take multiple years of lobbying before the administration feels enough pressure to act on those projects, if it does so at all. As such, they plan to continue work that previous administrations have done. They also recognize that pressures on the administration must come both from UGBC and from the student community as a whole.

Gehman and Escobar have the institutional knowledge and personal experiences to be advocates for all students. While the other teams demonstrated passion, they did not have the same understanding of what policies need to be implemented and how to carry them out. Many had not thoroughly researched their plans, and were misinformed or unaware of crucial information related to their proposals. Gehman and Escobar are informed about important administrators with whom they will need to work on a weekly basis as president and vice president. Both have UGBC experience, and they have the best ability to improve the University for all students.

February 9, 2020