Election season has officially arrived in Chestnut Hill.
This year’s UGBC presidential campaigns kicked off Sunday night in the Vandy Cabaret Room, attended by a crowd so full of campaign supporters that a fire hazard warning had to be announced within two minutes of their arrival. Sporting blue bandanas, matching green or navy blue shirts and face paint, students filed in to hear about the three pairs of candidates’ platforms and what the future could have in store for the Boston College community.
After all three platforms were presented, the 187 students in attendance voted in a straw poll. Thomas Napoli, A&S ’16, and running mate Olivia Hussey, A&S ’17, came away with a win, earning 57 percent of the votes.
Napoli and Hussey began their presentation with a promotional campaign video showcasing their motto “Back to Basics” and denouncing the often overly elevated nature of political campaigns. Followed by the reading of a collection of quotes taken from various BC students that Napoli and Hussey surveyed over the past couple of weeks, the pair expressed that the student voice will be at the center of their platform. They cited mental health stigmatization, sexual assault and student rights as issues they will be addressing during their administration.
“We want to create an environment where all those quotes that were said don’t have to be said in anonymous, private conversations,” said Napoli. “It’s really about opening up Boston College to conversation.”
“We believe that the most meaningful way to create change is to start a dialogue, and move forward from there.”
Napoli and Hussey also mentioned securing free speech for students on campus, creating a campus-wide pledge against sexual assault, revising the student conduct system and improving academic advising especially for the College of Arts and Sciences and freshmen students as key points of their 37-page platform. The length, they explained, is due to the yearlong action plan that accompanies each point of the platform.
“We need to work with the student body in everything we do,” said Hussey. “At the end of the day, the seat at the table isn’t for UGBC. It’s for all of you.”
Cassidy Gallegos, LSOE ’16, and Michael Keefe, A&S ’16, came in second place in the straw poll vote with 47 votes. Their platform centered on three main topics: mental health, improving the freshman experience and basic student life issues.
Gallegos explained her own involvement with starting the BC chapter of To Write Love on Her Arms, as well as her work with UGBC’s Be Conscious campaign, as motivation for running for president.
“I was fortunate enough to spend the majority of my time [at BC] doing something that I saw as a really important movement,” she said. “I want every student to be able to be passionate about something and see their efforts pay off in tangible change.”
Highlights of the Gallegos-Keefe platform include an increase in awareness of mental health issues on campus and resources for students, a larger-scale, less competitive freshman mentorship program and tangible student life issues, such as getting printers on Lower campus.
Coming in third in the straw poll was the team of James Kale, LSOE ’16, and Jose Altomari, A&S ’16. Running on the motto, “Including U in UGBC,” the pair laid out a platform that caters to student needs, separated into three different categories of attainability.
“We don’t believe in bombastic promises,” said Kale. “We want to make sure students know exactly what we plan to accomplish and that we can accomplish it in a short period of time.”
Some key aspects of Kale & Altomari’s platform are a plan to have presidents of Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) meet as a unit once a month to discuss the campus climate, advocating for gender-neutral bathrooms to accommodate members of the LGBTQ community, offering counseling services for students returning from abroad and revising the Cultural Diversity aspect of the core curriculum.
“I believe that even though we have a liberal arts education, we’re not educating the whole person,” Kale said.
Campaigning begins this week, followed by the final debate on Sunday Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. in the Vandy Cabaret Room. Voting opens at 8 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 16 and results will be announced on Wednesday, Feb. 18.
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