Representatives from UGBC will meet with administrators, Board of Trustees Friday, with aims of reworking rules on free speech, conduct in student guide.
Representatives from the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) plan to meet with several University administrators on Friday to propose changes to BC’s Student Guide. Meetings have been scheduled with the Office of the Dean of Students (DOS), the Office of Student Involvement (OSI), and the Board of Trustees. UGBC hopes to discusses a series of reforms to the guide drafted by its members—these proposals have been in development stages since last spring.
UGBC senator Thomas Napoli, chair of the Institutional Policy Review Committee (IPR) and A&S ’16, held a town hall meeting on the matter Tuesday, working in conjunction with senator Meredith McCaffrey, member of the IPR and A&S ’17. According to Napoli, the committee does not foresee the discussion ending Friday. He expects OSI will review the proposal over Christmas break.
UGBC split into three teams to draft these revisions: the Free Speech and Expression team, the Rights and Responsibilities Team, and the Conduct Reform team.
The Free Speech and Expression team seeks to improve policies regarding how students can share information on campus. Currently, registered student organizations must get approval from OSI before posting fliers on campus, while unrecognized clubs cannot post fliers. UGBC is proposing a policy that will allow any student registered student organization or group of at least five undergraduates to post fliers on campus. Under the suggested reform, OSI would still oversee the process, but could not reject a flier on grounds of its content.
“The idea behind this number is that if there are five people on campus who have an idea they think is worth putting on a flier, chances are it’s an idea worth expressing on campus,” Napoli said. “You’re smart enough to get into BC, you’re in a student organization—we have trust in you that you’re going to put up a flier that’s worthwhile.”
One of the bigger departures from the current Student Guide in UGBC’s proposal is a change in the Student Guide’s policy on bringing speakers to campus. The current policy states that student groups must inform OSI 45 days prior to a speaker event. The Director of OSI can then decide whether or not to approve it. Under UGBC’s suggested policy, any student organization or group of at least five students would be able to bring in an outside speaker to BC. The University would still be allowed to reject a speaker, but it would be required to notify the student organization and report its reasons for rejection to a proposed Committee for Free Expression.
The Committee on Free Expression would be made up of the Vice President of Student Affairs, four tenured professors, one graduate student, and four undergraduate students who UGBC would select through a campus-wide application process. Napoli hopes that the formation of this committee would offer more clarity to students when bringing a speaker to campus.
“A lot of this stuff is so subjective that having a committee made up of people across the BC community could be really valuable,” Napoli said.
Another component of the suggested policy changes would make great allowance for demonstrations on campus. The Free Speech and Expression team hopes to revise University policies to allow students demonstrations in five designated areas: O’Neill Plaza, the Academic Quad, the Stokes Amphitheatre, the Stokes Lawn, and the Corcoran Commons patio area. The students would be required to notify the Dean of Students 48 hours in advance only if they were proposing to demonstrate a University or student event. Otherwise, students would be able to demonstrate in designated areas without the need for prior approval from DOS.
Mackenzie Arnold, UGBC Senator and A&S ’17, and Isaac Akers, UGBC Senator and A&S ’16, are the leaders of the Rights and Responsibilities team. Their proposed policy changes include the right against self-incrimination, the right to use campus facilities, the right to appeal without fear of retaliation or increased sanctions, and the right to review records.
Over the summer, the DOS changed the conduct system to remove “Housing Probation,” the intermediary level of punishment under the Student Guide. The Conduct Reform team, led by Lucas Levine, A&S ’15, hopes to bring back an intermediary system as well as change the level of proof required to hold a student responsible for an offense. Currently, the level of proof must be “more likely than not.” The Conduct Reform team hopes a “clear and convincing” standard of proof can be implemented.
“This is one of those policies where it really doesn’t seem like it affects you until it does,” said Napoli.
UGBC’s current priority is presenting the proposals of the Free Speech and Expression team.
“I expect them [the administration] to take it very seriously,” Napoli said. “We benchmarked over 50 schools and came up with an incredibly reasonable proposal that is supported pretty much across the school.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated under the proposed revisions students would still be required to seek DOS approval for a demonstration. Napoli clarified that this would only be the case when protesting a University or student event.
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