Features, On-Campus Profiles, Profiles

Kapurura and Wachsmuth: Equity, Transparency, and Accountability

When Kudzai Kapurura was a freshman in high school, she walked into her principal’s office with a list of proposals for improvement within the school.

“I typed out a whole document of all of the things about my school that I felt could be better and also a whole bunch of solutions,” Kapurura, MCAS ’23, said. “Some students didn’t have laptops at home. [I asked,] ‘Why don’t we provide students with the opportunity to check out the laptops that we have here at school?’ … I remember my principal was like, ‘Who are you with? What club is this?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, I’m just here. … I’m just here as Kudzai.’”

Seven years later, Kapurura is taking a similar approach to her campaign for UGBC president. 

“What I understood then, and what I understand still now is that leadership does not come with a requirement,” Kapurura said. “You don’t need to have done certain things in order to be a leader or to change things. You just have to be somebody who understands, ‘This is a problem, [and] here’s an opportunity for a solution. I’ve heard these experiences. I’ve heard these stories. Now how can we move forward and get things taken care of and get things done?’”

Kapurura said that growing up in the predominantly white Salem, Ore. as a dark-skinned Black woman and first-generation American from a lower-income family, she always felt alienated from her classmates.

Now, at Boston College, Kapurura sees that many students feel a similar way, she said.

“A lot of people are on the margins for a lot of different reasons,” she said. “That could be [that] your sexual orientation is not societally accepted, or you’re lower income, or you battle with depression or anxiety, or you don’t have the resources you need as an LGBTQ+ student. Those students need to be heard and served, and oftentimes, they are left underserved as the majority benefits.”

Running alongside Kapurura as her vice president is fellow Oregonian Caleb Wachsmuth, MCAS ’24. The two candidates became friends through their shared interest in serving underrepresented communities in both Oregon and the BC community, Wachsmuth said.

“We’ve always kept in contact and talked about the things we care about [and] the issues related to BC,” Wachsmuth said.

Coming to BC from across the country, Wachsmuth and Kapurura both said they appreciated the support they received from specialized first-year programs. Kapurura participated in the Options Through Education Transitional Summer Program, a program designed for incoming BC students who displayed excellent leadership and scholarly potential despite challenging academic or socioeconomic circumstances. Wachsmuth participated in the Shaw Leadership Program Living & Learning Community (LLC), a leadership and service-focused group.

Since then, Wachsmuth has joined the Boston Health Care for the Homeless program through 4Boston and the UGBC Council for Students with Disabilities (CSD).

“I’m a part of the invisible disabilities committee [in CSD], and the reason is because I grew up with one,” he said. “I had one of the worst stutters you could think of growing up.”

Through his involvement in UGBC, Wachsmuth said he has led discussions on how to make campus more accessible for students with various types of disabilities. Although Kapurura has never been involved with UGBC before, she said she has a willingness to serve and sees her lack of experience as an advantage.

“I walk in with no UGBC experience, and some people may think that’s a downfall, but in all honesty, I think it’s actually a boost because it shows that I understand the experiences that I’ve heard from … students,” Kapurura said. “Leadership stems from a willingness to want to see change, a willingness to serve others to listen and then act.”

Kapurura’s experience with Courageous Conversations—where she organizes campus dialogues on issues of race and identity—and her role as a residential assistant have informed her understanding of the issues that students around campus are facing. In February, Kapurura received the MLK Scholarship for her contributions to social justice.

Monica Lee, CSOM ’25 and the campaign’s chief of staff, said Kapurura’s continual push to enact change serves as a testament to her commitment to improve BC.

“She’s very well established at BC,” Lee said. “She’s incredible—dare I say, even perfect—but the thing is, it’s the fact that she still wants to leave something behind that is going to continue to make BC a better place, which I think is very rare to see.”

Kapurura is particularly passionate about TEDxBostonCollege, which she spoke at last year, shaping her understanding of the experiences of all types of students, she said.

“It was a really great opportunity, because the reception of that talk from students who have stories like mine and not like mine was incredible and to see people relate and get to connect and share experiences, and that’s what diversity means to me—the ability to share and enrich one another’s lives based on your personal experiences,” Kapurura said. 

This understanding of diversity is at the core of Kapurura and Wachsmuth’s three-pillar platform—equity, transparency, and accountability—which seeks to serve all types of students at BC, Kapurura said.

One of the primary ways the two candidates plan to promote diversity and equity is by expanding the Multicultural Learning Experience (MLE) LLC, which is currently only on Upper Campus, to the Newton campus as well.

“I think the expansion of the MLE [would] not only … give more opportunities to students of color [and] marginalized groups that want to experience Newton, but also allows for more diversity on Newton,” Wachsmuth said. 

Wachsmuth also placed a strong emphasis on the team’s plan to take tangible steps to make all parts of campus more accessible for students with disabilities, citing campus blue lights as a prime example for this change. 

“[The blue light gets] surrounded by snow in the winter. … If you’re in a wheelchair and you are feeling like you’re in danger … you’re not going to get to that button, and that is extremely scary,” he said.

The two candidates said they want to ensure that not only UGBC is held accountable for bringing the demands of the student body to fruition, but the University at large as well. To achieve this goal, Kapurura plans to have a student participate on the Board of Trustees. This student would act as a representative of the student body and contribute to conversations that impact all students, she said. 

“Maybe that student wouldn’t get the right to vote, but their voice is there,” Kapurura said. “They’ve heard and experienced student experiences and they get to share that at the table, and once those conversations are going around, their voice will then hopefully impact the way in which those people at the top are making decisions on our behalf.” 

While serving on her school district’s equity committee in Oregon, Kapurura said she had a say in the process of hiring her school’s new superintendent and wants to increase students’ involvement in the hiring process at BC.

“​​Students are the greatest stakeholders in that process, because at the end of the day, the professor is going to most greatly impact and serve the students in the classrooms,” Kapurura said.

The candidates’ campaign is centered around uplifting and listening to the opinions of students. Annie Namata, the campaign’s social media manager and MCAS ’23, said Kapurura and Wachsmuth considered the opinions of all the members of their team when building their platform.

“They, you know, got our input on … their policies or the reforms and things that they’re running on,” Namata said. “They want to hear what you have to say and they’re not kind of just deciding on their own.”

By focusing on their three pillars in conjunction with the firsthand experiences of their team, the candidates hope to make UGBC a more powerful force for change on campus.

“If you ask the average BC student … ‘how has UGBC affected you recently or what has UGBC done or what has UGBC passed in this semester, or this year?’ the majority of students here are unable to answer,” Wachsmuth said. “Students just don’t know what’s going on with the government. And that, to me, is a huge misstep.”

Featured Image by Steve Mooney / Heights Editor

March 27, 2022