The Student Assembly (SA) of UGBC confirmed Robert Finn, CSOM ’22, and Ryan Bates, MCAS ’22, to the 2021-22 Executive Council on Tuesday night.
Finn and Bates will serve as the directors of the Division of Financial Affairs and Division of Environmental Sustainability, respectively.
Finn was confirmed unanimously by the SA. UGBC President-elect Jack Bracher, MCAS ’22, cited Finn’s experience in UGBC’s Division of Financial Affairs as the reason why he was the most qualified candidate.
“Of all the applicants for the position, Rob was the only one with experience in the finance division of UGBC,” Bracher said. “With two years under his belt in the division, he has been able to learn the ropes of how the division functions.”
Bracher said he hopes that Bates’s time in UGBC and experience as an environmental studies major will enable him to successfully lead UGBC’s newly-established Division of Environmental Sustainability.
“Through his experience as the environmental coordinator in student initiatives and his leadership role in Every Bite Counts, I believe that Ryan will set a strong foundation for the division by pursuing sustainability initiatives, creating engaging programming, and strengthening climate activism on campus,” Bracher said.
Mitzy Monterroso-Bautista, SA representative and AHANA+ Leadership Council (ALC) policy coordinator, was not confirmed after being nominated for director of the Diversity and Inclusion Division for a second week in a row. She received 17 votes this week, one vote shy of the needed 18 votes to be confirmed.
Last week, Monterroso-Bautista, MCAS ’22, received 13 votes, five votes shy of confirmation.
The debate in Tuesday’s meeting centered around whether Monterroso-Bautista would be willing to stand up for all minority communities in addition to fighting for students of color.
Representative James Freirich, CSOM ’21, said that her words during last week’s meeting showed that her only priority is fighting for students of color.
“Her words made it clear that she has not prioritized fighting for students who are not of color,” Freirich said. “In that statement, she made it clear that she does not fight equally and equitably for those who are not of color but are still part of underrepresented diversity and minority communities at Boston College.”
Representative Justin Smith, MCAS ’24, said that Freirich’s claim was not a correct understanding of Monterroso-Bautista’s words and that students of color need someone like Monterroso-Bautista to stand up for them.
“I definitely think her words were misconstrued,” Smith said. “Even for me to hear her say that she is going to look out for the students of color on this campus, that makes me feel damn good because at times I feel like we have nobody.”
Representative Daniel Jin Sung, MCAS ’21, also said that Monterroso-Bautista has been too selective in terms of inclusion during her time as ALC policy coordinator.
“ALC is passionate about and great at making sure the African American students feel safe and included on campus … but this is not the case for some other minority groups on campus,” Sung said. “As an Asian American myself I know for a fact that many of the AAPI students feel left out.”
Monterroso-Bautista responded by acknowledging the problem and speaking to how she has been trying to combat it. She said she hoped to diversify the majority African American ALC board of directors and have more conversations with Asian American students.
“This is not the first time this issue has come up, at least for me, because I have had other students tell me that Asian American students don’t feel accepted in ALC,” Monterroso-Bautista said. “And that is something I have brought to the directors and we talked about it, and after that, we had those conversations with students.”
Representatives also criticized Monterroso-Bautista for saying that the statement from UGBC President Christian Guma, CSOM ’21, after the vandalism of the MLE floor was frustrating because “it was the opinion of a white man.”
Representative Samuel O’Connor, MCAS ’21, asked Monterroso-Bautista if her claim about Guma being a “white man” was a productive way to discuss race. Monterroso-Bautista answered that it was productive.
“I think that any talk about race is going to be productive because it is not talked about enough on campus,” Monterroso-Bautista said. “There are different ways you can talk about it but bringing it to the forefront and bringing it to the public, I think that is productive.”
Monterroso-Bautista’s decision to support an Indigenous People Day but not an Italian Heritage Day was the final point of debate. Monterroso-Bautista said that colonization has deeply impacted her family’s history in deadly ways in Latin America.
“Seeing Italian Heritage Day and also having that connection of not being able to see my heritage, of course, I am going to represent the students that do not get to see their heritage like that,” Monterroso-Bautista said.
Monterroso-Bautista also denounced all claims that those who support Italian Heritage Day also support colonization.
Dennis Wieboldt, president pro-tempore of the SA and MCAS ’22, said that support for either of the heritage days was not mutually exclusive.
“I do not think there were two sides and that we needed to either choose AHANA+ students or Italian students,” Wieboldt said. “I think that is a false dichotomy.”
Wieboldt closed the debate by mentioning how research on Italian Heritage Day was done by two UGBC representatives from minority populations and found that the holiday has nothing to do with colonization or venerating Christopher Columbus.
Despite this, Wieboldt said, representatives are forming a false dichotomy between AHANA+ students and Italian students with voting expectations being based on the races and backgrounds of representatives.
“When people text you that because you look a certain way, that should inform how you do something, I think that goes to show why we have a serious problem in UGBC,” Wieboldt said.
Featured Image by Vikrum Singh / Heights Editor