The Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) inauguration marked the end of an administration that has faced the challenge of a shifting structure and ushered in a new group of leaders who will be tasked with implementing the organization’s transformed role.
A central focus of Wednesday night’s event was outgoing UGBC president and executive vice president Matt Nacier and Matt Alonsozana, both A&S ’14, reflecting on their experiences working in UGBC, acting as mentees and mentors, and friends and leaders. They each shared advice for the new administration, to be led by incoming president Nanci Fiore-Chettiar and executive vice president Chris Marchese, both A&S ’15, as well as for all UGBC members.
Before Nacier and Alonsozana spoke, however, Dean of Students Paul Chebator addressed the audience of student leaders and shared some observations he has had about UGBC over his 34 years at BC. Chebator, who will retire at the end of this academic year, provided insight on several aspects of past UGBC administrations that he thought were crucial in helping them succeed.
Among these characteristics were having strategic outlooks, focusing on a few important issues, doing their homework and planning, acting within the framework of existing institutions, building strong relationships with administrators, developing realistic goals, and working as a team.
“Something I would say to you is a warning that you’re looking at Boston College in a four-year timeframe,” Chebator said. “The one thing about change in large institutions is that most of the time, change is glacial. Don’t always expect everything to be completed in a one-year period. One of the most important things you can do is develop and lay the groundwork, and plant the seeds for the next administration to come on and build on what you’re working on.”
Alonsozana spoke next, acknowledging that much of what UGBC does will not be remembered without means of institutional memory. Despite this, though, his reflections on his time as a student leader have led him to discover the greater benefits he has reaped from his time in UGBC.
“The mentoring relationships that you develop in this room and with the people that come before you and after you are the most important things you’ll carry with you during your time at BC and beyond,” Alonsozana said.
As the organization’s future leaders, Alonsozana advised the audience to “strive not for perfect time, but a full time” in UGBC.
Outgoing president Nacier emphasized the importance of conversations and friendships that have shaped his identity not only as a leader, but also as a BC student in general. Everything you give to BC, he said, the University will give back to you 10-fold.
“Thank you for letting me be your president, and thank you for letting me be your friend,” he closed. “I’ve had a wonderful time here, and you’ll have a better one.”
Following their speeches, Fiore-Chettiar was sworn in as UGBC president, and she then announced the vice presidents that would make up the rest of the executive council. Marchese, as executive vice president, is joined by incoming vice president of diversity and inclusion Martin Casiano, A&S ’15; vice president of student initiatives Connor Bourff, A&S ’15; vice president of communications Kavi Bansal, LSOE ’15; vice president of student organizations Dhara Bhatt, CSOM ’15; and vice president of finance Katie Nowak, A&S ’15.
After the entire room of incoming senators was inaugurated, Fiore-Chettiar and Marchese briefly outlined their plans for next year, emphasizing their commitment to UGBC’s new primary function of advocacy, and they acknowledged that this will require sacrifice. Three primary goals for the incoming administration are ensuring UGBC’s relevance, increasing education outside of the classroom, and increasing student input in University decision-making.
Fiore-Chettiar echoed Nacier in highlighting UGBC leaders’ positions as not only student government representatives, but also students, first and foremost.
“I’m a little tired of hearing that UGBC is not an organization for students, because we are students,” she said. “We go on Appa, and Arrupe, and we participate in 4Boston. We are part of culture clubs, and we play sports, and we’re work-study students. We understand what the BC experience is.
“Next year, we will prove that we not only understand the BC experience and what it means to be a student here, but that we know how to use that experience to make BC a strong community and a better place.”