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BC Denied Proposals for Queer Resource Center, Transgender Speaker, and Academic Conference, GLC Chair Says During SA Meeting

Boston College denied a proposal for a queer resource center in November, citing its Jesuit values, GLBTQ+ Leadership Council (GLC) Chair Wells Arkins said at a Student Assembly (SA) meeting on Tuesday night.

“Last November, we submitted our latest proposal for a queer resource center, which we have done pretty much traditionally every year to which it’s denied every year,” Arkins, MCAS ’23, said.

The University also rejected GLC’s request for a transgender athlete to visit BC and speak about his experience in the NCAA as well as its proposal to host an academic conference centered around the experiences of queer students at Jesuit universities, according to Arkins.

Arkins’ statements came as he discussed Boston University’s recent announcement that it will open a new LGBTQIA+ student center. 

“So this is just kind of a continued example of other universities moving forward with inclusive campus cultures and BC repeatedly falling behind,” Arkins said.

Arkins also spoke about the University’s announcement last April that it would restructure the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center (BAIC) to incorporate LGBTQ+ student resources under its umbrella. 

“There has been a lack of communication regarding the changes to the BAIC and its inclusion of queer resources, lack of communication both to UGBC and the general public,” Arkins said. “So those are just kind of a list of some of the things that we’re up against right now.”

In an email to The Heights, Vice President for Student Affairs Shawna Cooper Whitehead and Dean of Students Corey Kelly said GLC was informed in the fall about the planned incorporation of LGBTQ+ resources into the BAIC.

“Student Affairs has a holistic vision for supporting LGBTQ+ students on campus via the Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center, and that this vision would require additional resources from the University,” the email reads.

Cooper Whitehead and Kelly also said GLC leaders and the rest of UGBC have been in conversation with the administration about the ongoing restructuring of the BAIC. Efforts to communicate the changes to the rest of the student body are underway, they added.

“An integrated intercultural center model is a model that has been effective at other universities, and allows for students to be served across their various identities,” the email reads.

Jessica Orrell, SA representative and MCAS ’26, proposed that UGBC publish a written statement supporting GLC in the face of the adversities Arkins had described.

“Something I’ve noticed about being on the Student Assembly is that sometimes, at least from my own personal experience, we feel scared to pressure administration on things and don’t want to seem super contentious,” Orrell said. “But I also think that, in a way, we do need to hold the University accountable for what they’re saying.”

Katherine Garrigan, SA representative for the Montserrat Coalition and MCAS ’25, said the University points to the resources it already provides for queer students to excuse its reluctance to offer more.

“‘We have GLC, we have a GLC formal, we have queer social hours,’” Garrigan said. “They tried to find certain things they do have to, like, frame it that they’re not like homophobic and transphobic.”

Meghan Heckelman, UGBC’s director of student initiatives and LSEHD ’25, suggested the UGBC vice president and president address GLC’s concerns at their next meeting with the Board of Trustees.

“Maybe I’m making a jump here, but I feel like trustees that are out in the world and successful in business and, you know, doing things, might be less attached to these … prejudices that are under the guise of religion,” Heckelman said.

Lubens Benjamin, UGBC president and CSOM ’23, said that he and Julia Spagnola, UGBC vice president and MCAS ’23, can theoretically present any topic to the Board of Trustees, but they have to be strategic with the issues they choose.

“It’s more so about what the response will be once we present—because we can present something and have them stay silent and we just have to move to the next point because we only have 30 minutes with them,” Benjamin said.

When Spagnola and Benjamin meet with the Board of Trustees’ Student Life Committee, they center their presentation on student life to keep the conversation going, Spagnola said in an email to The Heights.

“I think it’s just a mutual understanding that if we bring this up, it’s not going to be productive to UGBC, and it’s not going to be productive to any conversation that comes after we leave the room, which is unfortunate,” Spagnola said to The Heights after the SA meeting.

March 2, 2023