After heated debate and multiple members storming out, the Student Assembly (SA) voted no to a bill that would have created a speaker of the SA, eliminating the Undergraduate Government of Boston College vice president’s power over the legislative body.
“I urge you all to vote no on this,” Chris Rizzo, chair of the GLBTQ Leadership Council and MCAS ’22, said. “If we want to do anything, and if we want to leave a legacy that actually matters, vote no.”
Currently, the UGBC vice president is the president of the SA. At the Wednesday night meeting, Dennis Wieboldt, chair of the Community Relations Committee and MCAS ’22, sponsored the bill that would have more starkly divided UGBC’s legislative and executive branches.
“This proposal would move the vice president solely to the executive branch so that they have the time to devote properly just to helping the president,” Wieboldt said. “The Student Assembly would then elect a speaker among themselves who would be responsible for procedural management.”
Several SA members vocalized strong opposition to Wieboldt’s bill.
“I think our capability as a student government is to promote ideals and policies that we think are reflective of the student body,” said Ted Park, SA representative and MCAS ’23. “And honestly, dividing up the executive and legislative branch plays no helpful role in that.”
Wieboldt argued that the bill would democratize the SA nomination process.
“It makes the nomination process more democratic because now everyone who’s elected or appointed to a position has the right to nominate someone who they think would be best for that role,” Wielboldt said.
Wells Arkins, MCAS ’23, said he opposed the idea of taking responsibilities away from the vice president.
“Let’s consider having more collaboration between SA and the finance division instead of just creating more bureaucracy,” Arkins said. “Increasing bureaucracy doesn’t increase efficiency. … It’s an incredibly inefficient process—almost impossible to implement.”
Inefficiency was a common concern among several meeting attendees who argued that further separating the legislative and executive branches would create less harmony within UGBC.
“I really struggle to see how disconnecting branches of student government from each other is going to actually help people collaborate more,” Rizzo said.
Rizzo stressed the potentially troubling effects of the bill, as there is already not enough collaboration among UGBC, he said.
“I think Student Assembly and all of UGBC needs to face up to the fact that we have no real power at Boston College,” Rizzo said. “We cannot force anyone to do anything. The only power that we have is when we work together.”
SA members raised their voices as the debate continued and grew more intense, and several members left early.
When it came time to vote on the bill, it was unclear whether two-thirds of the assembly—which is required to vote on a bill—were still present.
“The fact that we have to do roll for a vote is kind of annoying and disrespectful to the other people here,” said Joshua Golden, SA representative and MCAS ’25. “I find it disrespectful to people here who take time to write bills, to table, and really get a grasp on what it means to be in SA and UGBC.”
After over an hour of debate on the floor, the SA voted no to the bill with 11 yes votes, 12 no votes, and 5 people not present.
With the mounting tension near the meeting’s end, Vice President Gianna Russi, MCAS ’22, reminded the SA to respect one another.
“It’s definitely okay to disagree, especially in a body like this,” she said. “I think we all just need to take a step back and remember that our students treat each other with respect. Talk to each other like you’re peers.”
Featured Image by Ben Schultz / Heights Staff