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UGBC Talks Housing for LGBTQ+ Students, Campus Accessibility, and Free Speech

H Edwards, Queer Leadership Council (QLC) policy coordinator, said a recent meeting they had with the Office of Residential Life (ResLife) to discuss housing options for LGBTQ+ students was unproductive and yielded little progress.

“I’m sad to report that, personally, I was very disappointed in this meeting,” Edwards, MCAS ’26, said.

According to Edwards, several other Jesuit institutions—such as Fordham University and Fairfield University—have created gender-neutral housing options for LGBTQ+ students in recent years. 

The QLC, however, has found it difficult to garner support from administrators for a similar project at BC, where no policy pertaining to housing queer and gender nonconforming students exists, Edwards said.

“Something that was said [in the meeting with ResLife] is that policy is policing, but I think that statement is wrong,” Edwards said. “I think that a policy is helpful because it guides the practices rather than the practices being up to the hands of an individual or a group of people.”

Multiple senators suggested that a Living & Learning Community for queer and gender non-conforming students would be a more feasible solution in the short term. 

Colleen Blascik, first-generation student representative and MCAS ’27, said this solution may still pose challenges because administrators have historically been reluctant to create affinity spaces for LGBTQ+ or underrepresented students.

“I wonder if you could propose it in a way where it’s not like an affinity space, but more like sort of an inclusive and people don’t have to be queer in order to live there—it can just be a place where students feel safe and people feel comfortable talking about that,” Blascik said.

Also during the meeting, Andreas Pantazakos, UGBC Senator and MCAS ’24, said he and other UGBC members are currently drafting a survey to gauge student interest in adding bus stops near Upper Campus and 245 Beacon Street.

“We’re trying to show that there are problems on campus, that we’re not serving certain students,” Pantazakos said.

Pantazakos said he hopes to demonstrate to administrators that students—especially students with disabilities—would benefit from expanded transportation.

Addie Weiss, UGBC Senator and MCAS ’27, said that while input from students with disabilities should be prioritized, the survey should also incorporate feedback from able-bodied students to augment support. 

“I know that there are fully able-bodied students—first-years in particular—who will come to me asking for a bus stop on Upper just for transport between Newton and Upper,” Weiss said. “I think that able-bodied students will be just as supportive of this initiative as students with disabilities or who use accommodations.”

Later in the meeting, the Senate discussed ways to promote and safeguard free speech at BC in light of a recent report by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression that gave BC the lowest possible rating for free speech—a distinction shared by just 20 percent of the 489 colleges assessed.

“I think [free speech] is an issue in society more broadly, and I think that it’s fair to say that controversy is especially tough in recent years,” said Meghan Heckelman, UGBC vice president and LSEHD ’25. “I think this is something that, as student government, we should be the leaders in promoting.”

Alexis Thomas, Montserrat student representative and MCAS ’25, said she hopes to contact administrators to discuss the ranking and determine what actions, if any, they have taken in response. 

“I’m really curious to know how the administration is dealing with this,” Thomas said. “I have no idea what they’re thinking or what they’re saying as far as their response [to the ranking],” Thomas said.

Pantazakos suggested that increasing public debate and discussion may increase equity on campus.

“I definitely think having a more open forum on campus will actually create a more equitable campus, because it will bring out hard discussions and allow bad ideas to get taken down in public,” Pantazakos said.

February 28, 2024