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UGBC Senate Discusses Potential New Public Policy Minor, Use of Generative AI

The UGBC Senate discussed updates on an effort to create a new public policy minor during its meeting Tuesday night. According to student senator Andreas Pantazakos, the minor could be approved as early as Feb. 22—provided it garners enough support from faculty and administrators. 

“We need faculty and administration to really take this project home,” said Pantazakos, MCAS ’24.

While the proposal for the new minor is still being tweaked, Pantazakos said the current iteration includes three required courses—one in economics, one in politics, and one quantitative and statistical methods course. 

To round out the minor, students would have the option of choosing from a variety of electives on topics such as immigration, welfare, civil rights, and employment, Pantazakos added. 

“This is truly an interdisciplinary program,” Pantazakos said.

According to Pantazakos, widespread student support is crucial in making the minor a reality. Many courses across different academic departments could potentially count toward the minor, but the burden lies on students—both members of UGBC and the student body at large—to find such courses and compile them, he said.

“The more classes we find, the more classes that are eligible,” Patazakos said. “And the more people that reach out to me, the greater the chance that this program can get approved.”

Later in the meeting, Colleen Blascik, first-generation student representative and MCAS ’27, shared updates from a meeting she had with the Office of Undergraduate Admission to promote content of students from underrepresented backgrounds on BC’s social media.

“This is probably going to be more of a long-term initiative, but more short term is creating more [‘day in the life’ videos] and representation on the social media,” Blascik said. “Just making sure that all students are being seen on campus—especially for international students and students who don’t have the ability to travel to BC as prospective students.”

For the second consecutive week, the Senate then entered executive session—temporarily closing the meeting to the public and press—to discuss a recent meeting with staff from the Connors Family Learning Center.

The Senate also discussed ongoing efforts to educate students about the potential downsides and risks of using generative AI platforms, such as ChatGPT, for academic assignments—an issue that student senator Cami Kulbieda said is especially significant in light of BC’s Jesuit values and liberal arts foundation.

“A lot of what we do here at BC is engaging in critical thinking, dialogue, problem-solving, and sometimes the use of AI can limit those perspectives,” Kulbieda, LSEHD ’26, said. “So we really want to push education about AI in such a way that is through the lens of Jesuit education.”

Kulbieda said a recent meeting with Margaret Cohen, head librarian for educational initiatives and research, yielded a number of concrete steps, including drafting a clause about acceptable AI usage to be included in professors’ syllabi across the University, or incorporating lessons on acceptable AI usage in freshman writing seminar courses.

“One of Margaret’s suggestions was putting this into the research librarian aspect of first-year writing seminars, which 70% of first-years take,” Kulbeida said. “It doesn’t reach the entire population because a lot of students test out of it, but it’s another way.”

In the meantime, a module about AI has been added to the required academic integrity tutorial for all first-year students, according to Kulbieda.

“Our idea with this is the more angles we can attack this from, the more natural conversation becomes, the more comfortable people feel talking about it, and the more we can just keep this an ongoing discussion,” Kulbieda said.

February 7, 2024

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