News, On Campus

Bill Proposing Student Assembly Speaker Sent Back to Committee

In a Dec. 8 Student Assembly (SA) meeting, the SA voted not to add an act passed by the Community Relations Committee to the meeting’s agenda. The proposed act would have amended the UGBC Constitution and Standing Rules to introduce a speaker of the SA.

Dennis Wieboldt, Community Relations Committee chair and MCAS ’22, said that though many structural changes implemented to the SA last year were successful, others had unintended consequences that limited UGBC’s ability to represent BC’s undergraduate community.

“As such, Rep. Leo and I recently introduced a proposal for the restructuring of the Student Assembly’s leadership team and relationship to the Executive Branch,” Wieboldt wrote in an email to The Heights. “This proposal, as with every other piece of legislation, was taken before a committee for initial feedback and conversation, and then sent to the Student Assembly for further conversation.”

The situational preamble to the bill says that many other colleges have more clearly separated legislative and executive branches that allow “more meaningful checks and balances on their independent powers.” With the proposed amendments, a new speaker of the SA would lead the SA, while the executive vice president of UGBC would act as a liaison between the legislative and executive branches. 

According to Wieboldt, input from peers was valued when creating and discussing this legislation, as the proposed act was brought through committee and made “publicly available for more than twice the amount of time required by UGBC’s governing regulations.”

“The SA President and President Pro Tempore’s decision to effectively deny the SA the opportunity to review and discuss the legislation at the December 9 meeting ran contrary to the goal of fostering a robust consultative process,” Weibolt wrote.

Gianna Russi, vice president of UGBC and MCAS ’22, disagreed with Wieboldt. She said her responsibility was to provide materials that were available ahead of the meeting, but that this proposal was not available 24 hours in advance, so she and the president pro tempore were within their rights to send it back to committee. 

“I see an issue with the fundamental consideration of others,” Russi said during the meeting. “I’m not trying to dodge anything. We can still talk about this bill. We can break it apart. We can see what people’s initial thoughts are before we go mandate actual wording, but I think that was in itself flawed and that’s why I sent it back to committee. Sending it back to committee isn’t dodging it. It isn’t making the bill die. It’s just saying, ‘This needs more work.’”

The SA of UGBC concluded the semester by welcoming two elected representatives—Wells Arkins and Jonah Kotzen. 

“Since joining GLC’s eboard in September, Wells has been a tireless advocate for queer students on campus and a dedicated event planner,” Chris Rizzo, MCAS ’22, said during the meeting. 

Rizzo, chair of the GLBTQ Leadership Council (GLC), detailed Arkins’ experience planning and executing events for GLC.

“Wells has been instrumental in executing our monthly lender dinners, our Pride Week programming in October, all while serving as the president of the newly revived BC Allies, which has crafted an anti-bigotry residence hall training program,” he said.

Arkins, MCAS ’23, will serve as the SA representative for GLC. Arkins said he was involved with the GLC executive board as a general coordinator, planned events for queer students, helped plan GLC’s Pride Week programming, and worked with the Allies of Boston College in conjunction with GLC.  

“My goals for the year are advancing the voices of queer students on this campus,” Arkins said in an interview with The Heights. “I think that we’re on a campus where, traditionally, voices of minority students are not heard and not respected, and I think that UGBC offers a place for our voices to be heard.”

Kotzen, MCAS ’24, will now serve as the chair of the Intersectionality Committee. He previously served as an SA representative and a member of the Council for Students with Disabilities. 

“I’m going to continue to do the same work I’ve been doing this whole year in terms of advocating for students with disabilities, changing policies in their favor [and] in terms of making blue lights more accessible and trying to advocate for emotional support animals in the classroom,” Kotzen said in an interview with The Heights.

Featured Image by Aditya Rao /  Heights Staff

Correction 12/12/2021 10:47 a.m.: A previous version of this article incorrectly described Gianna Russi’s title as executive vice president, and that error has been corrected.

December 12, 2021

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