The Student Assembly (SA) unanimously passed a bill intended to combat bias-motivated speech on the anonymous social media app Herrd in its meeting on Tuesday.
“The Student Assembly of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College … hereby creates a working group to collaborate on resolving the issue of posts including bias motivated speech and language on Herrd, as well as researching a proper response by administration in accredited universities similar to BC,” the act reads.
Buck Popolo, policy coordinator of the GLBTQ+ Leadership Council and CSOM ’23, worked with the Intersectionality Committee to draft the legislation—titled “An Act Concerning Research at Accredited Universities in Response to Bias Motivated Incidents on Social Media and Across Campus.”
“On Monday September 12, a post was made by a Boston College student on the app Herrd that used biased language toward a student with a disability,” the act reads. “Posts using biased language have been a recurring problem on the app.”
In a period of questioning prior to the SA’s vote, Jonah Kotzen, the Council for Students with Disabilities’ (CSD) SA representative and Intersectionality Committee chair, specified that only UGBC members would be a part of the working group.
“We thought it might be most beneficial to limit [the working group] to just UGBC [members], because if we open it up to the whole student body, it might get out of our control, and our opinions as representatives of the student body might get lost in the chaos that ensues from that,” Kotzen, MCAS ’24, said.
Kotzen then discussed possible ways the larger community could be informed and involved throughout the process.
“I think this would be beneficial to put on Instagram to say that this is what we’re working on or even a newsletter and to ask for any suggestions,” Kotzen said. “I think it’s necessary to do this especially because these students are the ones being affected by these responses.”
In addition to passing the act surrounding Herrd, Julia Spagnola, UGBC vice president and MCAS ’23, discussed the possibility of creating a survey to address student concerns about BC Dining.
“There’s currently fears about a $3,000 meal plan not being able to cover students through the semester, but in a greater proportion than usual because of increased prices,” Spagnola said. “What we would be doing is putting together a survey to ask students, either halfway through or at the end of the semester, how much money they have left on their meal plan.”
According to Spagnola, there is a sense of urgency to conduct the survey because students have a limited amount of money for the semester.
Jake Kauffman, junior class SA representative and CSOM ’24, later addressed student concerns regarding the study abroad program’s application process.
“One issue that I found with the application process, after hearing from other students, is that it’s not very transparent in terms of what it looks for and how you have your outcome,” Kauffman said.
According to Kauffman, he plans to address these issues in an upcoming meeting with the Office of Global Education.
Spagnola concluded the meeting by discussing the benefits of a tight-knit SA with about 30 members.
“I think it will set a good tone for us to be collaborative this year, and in doing so we won’t only set a good example of student groups coming together, but also hopefully achieve some of our goals,” Spagnola said.