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Kate McCabe / Gavel Media

As the Election Approaches, UGBC Presidential Candidates Make Final Appeal on Debate Stage

The Elections Committee of Boston College hosted the final debate for candidates vying to become the next President and Executive Vice President of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College on Sunday. 

This marked the second opportunity for candidates to engage each other head to head on the debate stage, preceded by the Diversity and Inclusion debate on January 29, which can be found on the Elections Committee’s Facebook page. 

Before the debates, candidates took to social media to promote their platforms and garner support for their campaigns. Although they mostly share the same goals, each platform emphasizes different aspects of what kind of change they believe BC needs the most.

Christian Guma, MCAS ‘21, and Kevork Atinizian, CSOM ‘22, aspire toward, “Making the Heights Home,” by incorporating themes of, “accessibility, inclusion, and improvement,” into their platform. Most notably, they have also raised awareness around the stipend doled out each year to the President and Vice President, which they have pledged to forego if elected.

Czar Sepei, MCAS ‘21, and Jack Bracher, MCAS ‘22, have built their campaign around the slogan of ascending, “to greater heights,” Czar and Jack promise to fight for, “long-term demands partnered with short-term tangible action.” Additionally, they claim their campaign is characterized by being, “Respectful, Responsible, and Ready.”

John Gehman, MCAS ‘21 and Leo Escobar, MCAS ‘22, who received the endorsement of The Gavel on Monday, are running on the message, “Envisioning a BC Worth Fighting For.” As part of this effort, they are centering their campaign on three “core values:” universality, intersectionality, and boldness.

Finally, Dennis Wieboldt, MCAS '23 and Lorenzo Leo, MCAS '23, are seeking to bring, “fresh energy on the heights,” as they have launched a rare freshman bid for the presidency. Despite having been at BC for less than a year, they tout their record as Senators as proof of their qualification.

Despite these subtle differences, the campaigns have proposed many of the same policies. In particular, increased access to menstrual products in bathrooms has been a key policy for each team’s platform, as well as the establishment of a dedicated resource center for LGBTQ+ students, in addition to other commitments to increased inclusion on campus.

Outlining the three pillars of their campaign, Kevork began the debate by stating that their primary mission as candidates is to, “change the status quo,” and, “make BC a diverse and inclusive campus for everybody.”

Christian followed up this point by stating that, “our job as UGBC is to amplify the power of the students and to provide tangible and concrete results for every member of our student body.”

They then transitioned to highlighting the flagship issue of their campaign—their pledge, “to not take the personal UGBC stipend,” with Christian expressing his hope that this, “not only illustrates, but also explains [their] commitment,” to selflessly serving the student body, aiming to instead use UGBC funds to, “improve student life on campus.”

Next, Czar and Jack spoke. Jack began with a story of his childhood goal of playing hockey here at BC. Although this goal never came to fruition, he used his experience working on the BC field staff at Conte Forum to highlight the importance of behind the scenes work. While athletes put in the visible work during a game, there is a whole network of people working to ensure games can proceed smoothly.

Using this as an metaphor for their campaign, Jack highlighted what he sees as the behind the scenes work he and Czar have put into their campaign, saying: “We have created policies and initiatives, we’ve knocked on doors, and we believe that we are ready to score the goal for every BC student.”

He then further emphasized their dedication to working on behalf of other students, stating that while, “the name of this campaign is Czar and Jack...this is a campaign for every BC student.”

The moderators then called upon the freshman Dennis and Lorenzo. Recalling a phone call with his parents earlier that day, Dennis recounted a story of his parents telling him, “Dennis, you have a lot of great ideas, there’s no need to talk about what grade you’re in.” However, rather than seeing this as a potential distraction from their campaign, Dennis argued that, “this is what makes [them] the most distinctive.”

Highlighting the similar platforms and initiatives advocated for by each candidate, Dennis acknowledged that the one thing that they cannot be compared to any other candidate for is their grade. 

Rather than shying away from their lack of tenure, Dennis and Lorenzo embrace it, arguing that that the, “fundamental tenet of why [they] decided to run,” was to, “bring fresh energy to the heights.” 

For them, their age is not a weakness, but their strength, with Dennis stating his belief that, “the fact that [they] still have three years left on campus should be indicative of the interest that [they] have in really making this campus better for [their] class and all the classes that are here, and all the classes that are yet to come.”

He then denounced the subdued role UGBC plays on campus, stating that although it is ostensibly, “devoted to advocating for the student body,” it rarely ever, “talks to the student body.”

Finally, John began with an appeal to unity, stating that, “everyone on this stage is running because we want to see a better BC, we want to call BC home, and we want to feel comfortable here, every single person.” Then, speaking personally, John stated: “We are specifically running because we’re fighting for a BC that I was promised.”

He proceeded to explain that as a, “queer student of color,” he was promised that, “Boston College was first a university, and not a church,” and as such, thought he was going to be, “as supported as any other person here.” However, he stated this has not always been the case: “BC often states that it doesn’t acknowledge its queer students, and the lack of a queer resource center is testament to why BC is not following its commitment to cura personalis.”

After this opening, John transitioned to the core of their campaign message, stating that: “Essentially, we subscribe to the idea of cura personalis, and we’re going to challenge the administration every single day in order to ensure that every single student feels comfortable at BC and feel they’re treated as whole [people].”

The election will be held Tuesday, February 11 from 12 AM until 5 PM, with electronic ballots sent to students by the Election Committee via email. Additionally, the class year that casts the most votes will be rewarded with an early entrance to Showdown on April 4.

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