UGBC’s Student Assembly discussed potential initiatives for the 2022–23 academic year in its second meeting of the semester on Tuesday.
“This is kind of our time just to share how we can all improve the undergraduate experience—things [we’ve] noticed in the last week … policy areas we want to work on,” said Julia Spagnola, UGBC vice president and MCAS ’23.
Several proposed initiatives involved creating a more inclusive environment for minority students on campus by establishing a working group to research bias-related incident responses at other schools and installing gender-neutral signage for single-stall bathrooms on campus.
Jonah Kotzen, the Council for Students with Disabilities’ (CSD) SA representative and Intersectionality Committee chair, shared his concerns about bias-motivated incidents on the Boston College–specific social media app Herrd, specifically mentioning a hateful comment toward a student with a disability that Sarah Farnan, chair of the CSD, brought to his attention.
The SA is currently in conversation with newly appointed Dean of Students Corey Kelly regarding the incident, according to Kotzen, MCAS ’24.
“Unfortunately, we keep running into issues like this, where when a situation of bias does happen, there’s not a lot that [Herrd] can do to penalize people or to hold them accountable because they don’t know who these people are,” Spagnola said. “We’re trying to have an ongoing conversation about it.”
Other proposed initiatives centered around using technology to make BC’s campus more easily accessible to its students. Kotzen and Thompson Penn, chair of the Student Life Committee and CSOM ’25, suggested creating a way for students to track the current occupancy of the Margot Connell Recreation Center from their mobile devices.
“So anytime you can go online, check how many people are in the Plex and then go on from there,” Kotzen said.
Kotzen also suggested making BC IDs digital through Apple Pay, allowing students to scan into rooms and buildings as well as to pay at dining halls from their phones.
Penn, along with the rest of the Student Life Committee, also proposed bringing late night—which is currently only available at Lyons Hall from Sundays to Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m.—to Lower and extending BC After Dark’s hours, which currently runs from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. from Thursdays to Fridays.
Both Kotzen and UGBC President Lubens Benjamin, however, voiced potential challenges to this proposal, mainly concerning BC Dining’s ongoing staffing issues.
“Late night at Lower wasn’t profitable for them in the past,” Lubens, CSOM ’23, said. “That’s an issue they’ve run into where if you’re staffing people from … 10 [p.m.] to 2 [a.m.], and students only come from 1 to 2 [a.m.], you’re not making money for those other hours.”
Ellie Rogowski, chair of the Academic Affairs Committee and CSOM ’24, also brought up how classes required to fill major requirements are often unavailable. She proposed that BC should create more of these classes.
“A lot of people have the issue where one of the requirements for their major … gets filled up really quickly, or there’s simply just not enough seats in the class for majors,” Rogowski said.
Megan Heckelman, director of student initiatives and LSEHD ’25, then updated committee members on upcoming UGBC events, most notably a talk with Victoria Garrick—a former collegiate athlete who focuses on mental health work, specifically with student-athletes—on Oct. 3, as well as a collaboration with the Project Life Movement to encourage BC students to become potential bone marrow and stem cell donors.
Before concluding the meeting, Spagnola also reminded members that there are currently three vacant SA positions—two being seats in the class of 2024 and the other being the transfer representative seat.
“If you have friends who are in the Class of 2024 [and] you think they’d be great for this job, they might be interested or available, I would give them the job today,” Spagnola said. “Talk to your friends—we have two openings, and we need them filled, so we can do a full body.”