The Undergraduate Government of Boston College has spent much of the semester cloaked in controversy and unable to deliver for the community its members are elected to serve. UGBC must improve its advocacy for the student body so that its communication with administrators results in tangible action for students. In addition, UGBC should reevaluate its budget to prioritize more funding for projects and initiatives that promote equality and inclusion on campus.
UGBC’s mission is to represent the student body and “amplify the student voices that need it most.” This mission statement, however, is a platitude that often results in hollow promises to connect students’ concerns to the University’s actions.
Similar to the undergraduate governments at other schools, UGBC’s resolutions are not binding, so its promises often fizzle out without the administration ever taking them seriously and enacting any real change.
UGBC’s inefficiency often shows itself in the last step of a project. It hosts general and Student Assembly (SA) meetings where members approve resolutions and make plans, but UGBC struggles to execute its proposed resolutions consistently, often leaving students disappointed in those they elected.
The racially motivated events which took place on the Multicultural Learning Experience floor earlier this month in Xavier Hall exemplify the inefficacy of UGBC resolutions to make changes to campus culture or conduct. In December of 2018, UGBC passed resolutions in response to racist vandalism in Welch Hall. Yet, despite its best intentions, the recurrence of racially motivated incidents on campus points to the futility of UGBC’s actions.
The Instagram page @blackatbostoncollege has brought attention to the many students who do not feel comfortable on campus because of the presence of prejudice in BC’s residence halls and classrooms. This issue should have been the focal point for UGBC this year, yet as students and faculty passionately call for continued racial dialogue and more action on the part of the administration, little has been done.
UGBC’s overall budget for the 2020-21 academic year totals $309,344.40. As of Friday, however, UGBC had only spent $72,450.79, much of which went toward promotions such as vouchers to White Mountain Creamery, succulent giveaways on the Quad, and board games for trivia nights. The Campus Activities Board (CAB) split from UGBC in 2013, but UGBC continues to operate in CAB’s shadow, hosting promotions and activities that fulfill the same goals.
Granted, some initiatives may have been stunted by the pandemic, and therefore slowed spending, but UGBC’s budget still remains underused.
UGBC typically sponsors many in-person events, which have been made impossible by social distancing requirements and gathering restrictions. But even after giving up stipend payments and saving money on in-person events, UGBC has failed to fully address the student body’s concerns about racism and COVID-19 with these additional funds. With a budget surplus of $236,893.61, it is clear that UGBC has the resources necessary to make a positive difference on campus that is more impactful than mirroring CAB activities.
In the past, UGBC has proven that it is capable of bringing useful resources to campus. In 2019, Reed Piercey, former UGBC president, championed Lean On Me, an anonymous student-to-student texting service to provide mental health support through conversation. The Lean On Me program falls under the Student Initiatives branch of UGBC, and is a strong example of what UGBC can do to improve the student experience.
Last week, UGBC released plans for Winterfest, an in-person, physically distanced event that will be held on Stokes Lawn from Feb. 25 to Feb. 28. The announcement reflects UGBC’s active listening to students’ call for more opportunities to socialize safely. Larger issues that involve the University administration still remain unsolved, however.
Matters regarding race and COVID-19 have demonstrated the glaring need for effective communication between the administration and the student body, heightening the importance of UGBC. Successful mediation led by UGBC will result in the changes that the community is calling for. It must also support the causes it presents to the administration by spending a larger percentage of its budget funding initiatives that reflect the demands of the student body. The success of UGBC is not only judged by its ability to work with the administration, but also by its ability to execute projects and initiatives which make BC a more equitable and just university. The new UGBC administration and SA should be focused on achieving this level of success.
A group of Heights editors who are committed to participating in the consistent writing of editorials comprise the editorial board. Editors who report on topics discussed in editorials are not permitted to participate in the discussion or writing of the editorial.
Members: Owen Fahy, Maddy Romance, Lauren Wittenmyer, Maggie DiPatri, Grace Mayer, Rachel Phelan, Eric Shea, Maggie Leahy, Olivia Franceschini, and Gabriel Wallen .