While seeking to make endorsements for the 2021-22 Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) elections, The Gavel invited the four tickets to speak with our editorial board over Zoom. Each team expressed a love for the Boston College community and a passion for effecting changes that will improve each student’s four-year stay at this institution. After engaging in conversation with the candidates and assessing their platforms, our Editorial Board has decided to endorse Jack Bracher, MCAS ‘22, and Gianna Russi, MCAS ‘22, for UGBC President and Executive Vice President.
We are confident that a UGBC led by Bracher and Russi will be ready to govern on their first day in office. Even before they announced their bid for office, they began building coalitions with student-led organizations, bringing in policy advisors from a multitude of student organizations. Already, they are taking great strides to empower and sustain their efforts, particularly in the areas of divestment and environmental advocacy. As Russi noted in our interview earlier this week, “This work doesn’t start on the first day of being in office, it starts now.”
“We have policy advisors involved in CJBC, involved in EcoPledge, and a lot of the time it's hard for these organizations to come together and collaborate,” she reported. “We’ve heard firsthand from these advisors that it’s been a great opportunity for them to feed off each other and centralize their advocacy so they can get things done.”
While the three other teams checked off many of the boxes for a progressive platform, it was Bracher and Russi who stood out as the pair who had done their research and could actualize those goals, which are broad-reaching, inclusive, and unique. They examined the track records of past governments to find both the flaws and strengths in their approaches to creating safe spaces for our AHANA+ and LGBTQ+ communities, acknowledging that their limited time, resources, and power means they should seek sweeping change within existing programs to set the foundations for a future LGBTQ+ resource center. For now, they plan on creating a community center within Carney where LGBTQ+ students can have a physical space to mingle and forge deeper connections.
Aside from their environmental and LGBTQ+ policies, they have 15 different policy platforms, which all align with The Gavel’s progressive vision for Boston College. Notably, they are the only team in the race with a COVID-19 plan that holds both students and administrators accountable. At present, our campus safety is at risk, and by working with the Division of Student Affairs and the Office of Residential Life, they will ensure all students have access to proper masks in accordance with the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines. In addition, they plan to work with University Health Services and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to improve the quarantine experience for students and improve transparency and efficiency surrounding testing and contact tracing.
One of the most pressing issues our campus is facing right now is the institutional divide between the student body and the University, which was made even more apparent after the administration failed to adequately address the most recent racist harassment on the women’s Multicultural Learning Experience floor. While all of the candidates interviewed were well-spoken and strong communicators, we found that Bracher and Russi were outstandingly articulate and poised, working off of each other in conversation to fill out their points. Our campus needs leaders like these who can effectively drive their points through to the administration with clarity and accuracy. To put it in Bracher’s words, “UGBC should be a vehicle for change...the way to do that is to act as a bridge between the administrators and the student body.”
As Bracher noted, many of the issues discussed in their platform have become buzzwords and campaign fodder, without substantiated plans to back them. Each year, we hear candidates talk about Upper Campus accessibility, the LGBTQ+ resource center, and divestment from fossil fuels, but we have yet to see any developments in these areas. All four teams certainly touched upon these issues, but it was Bracher and Gianna who set attainable goals and created the networks to achieve them. They plan on building upon existing relationships with BC Strong, a network of alumni with disabilities, to fundraise for an elevator that will bring students with physical disabilities to the top of Upper Campus’s pathway and for an accessible entrance on the College Road side of Mac.
“We’re the only campaign in this race that has laid out a plan for what Upper Campus Accessibility looks like,” said Bracher. “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure students feel they have solid advocates in us.”
This team recognizes the importance of following through on their verbal commitments to changing our campus’ culture. Through mandatory diversity training, expansion of the BRAVE program, and improved representation in the highest offices and decisions of student government, Bracher and Gianna will ensure that the voices of students of color are elevated to the highest degree. Further, Bracher acknowledged the need for a student representative on the Board of Trustees and believes that the UGBC’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion would be the best fit for the job, representing their constituents from CSD, ALC, and GLC.
In addition, they recognize the need for broadened mental health options for our students of color and plan to create an AHANA+ option for the Lean on Me support network.
“As an AHANA+ student myself, I understand that sometimes it’s difficult to talk to someone who doesn’t understand your background and experiences at BC, and we think that it’s really important for these students to feel heard,” said Russi. “Especially at a time when they are reaching out to Lean on Me, we think it’s more important than ever to have that option for them.”
The other three candidate pairs—Urwa Hameed, MCAS ‘22, and Sarah Henau, MCAS ‘22; Spencer Sandusky, CSOM ‘22, and Ryan Kruft, CSOM ‘23; and Kevork Atinizian, CSOM ‘22, and Jordan Nakash, CSOM '22—all shared strong, progressive visions for improving the campus community at BC during their interviews with The Gavel. In many ways, we were impressed by every individual's care and attentiveness to our student body's needs. Ultimately, Bracher and Russi stood out as the pair with the most substance behind their policies.
To put it in Bracher’s own words, their team brings, “stable leadership but also leadership with a vision, structure, and experience to be able to enact it.” The Gavel knows that, if elected, Jack Bracher and Gianna Russi will fight for a more equitable, safe, and inclusive Boston College.
The final Presidential Debate is to be held on Sunday, Feb. 28. The Election will take place on Tuesday, March 2.