Former UGBC Vice President Chris Marchese told The Gavel that he stepped down from his leadership role on Sunday night in response to pressure from University officials.
“I decided that it was best that I step down from my position for the rest of the semester,” Marchese said in an interview. “My decision was ultimately prompted by conversations with administrators in the Office of Student Involvement, specifically Gus Burkett, the director.”
OSI administrators’ involvement in UGBC business is nothing new, according to Marchese. In fact, it is consistently one of the causes that delays decision making and leads to the campus-wide stereotype that the student government is ineffective.
Marchese stresses that this is not the case with all, or even most, administrators, but said some OSI administrators regularly block UGBC initiatives.
“There is a sustained effort on behalf of some in OSI to limit UGBC's actions, monitor its efforts, and, in many cases, control its messaging,” he said.
While an undergraduate government ideally functions as a union for students on campus-- a forum that will fight for student interests and lend a voice to the student body, Marchese has been told that UGBC doesn’t necessarily have a place in the closed-door decision making process at BC.
“There are some who have said ‘having a seat at the table isn't a right, it's a privilege-- you don't have to be here,’” Marchese said. “In other words: push too hard and we'll make sure you lose more than you think you can win.”
These checks on UGBC’s power have trickle down, concrete effects on the Boston College student body. Even in his short term, Marchese has seen how these limitations can impact students.
One example of this came last summer when the university edited the student guide. UGBC was shut out of all revisionary meetings with Dean DeCapua, according to Marchese.
“UGBC was not involved and had no input in the revisions that were made to the guide,” Marchese said. “Despite this, we have heard, from multiple RAs on campus, that during RA training DeCapua said that he worked with Nanci [Fiorre-Chettiar, Executive President of UGBC] to make the revisions to the code. If this was said, it was false.”
These changes to the guide included revising the appeal process, eliminating housing probation and rewriting the section regarding marijuana use -- all of which UGBC would have liked to provide student insight towards, according to Marchese.
“Think about that,” he said. “The administration can leave UGBC out of the conversation, then restrict UGBC's ability to speak on the issue, and limit the ability of the student body to protest the administration's decisions. So what does this mean for the student body?”
It’s a good question, and one that UGBC will have to answer without Marchese.
For now, he has accepted his resignation, with former Vice President for Student Initiatives Connor Bourff succeeding him as acting executive vice president. Marchese’s future within the organization will be reevaluated during the spring semester.
“I think it's likely that UGBC will pursue greater autonomy moving forward,” Marchese concluded. “I do think we'll see an effort on UGBC's part to take a stronger stand for the student body.”
Burkett could not be reached for comment at the time of publication. Teddy Kolva contributed to this report.