Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) president Nanci Fiore-Chettiar, and executive vice president Connor Bourff, both A&S ’15, convened with the University Board of Trustees on Friday to discuss UGBC’s proposed initiatives and advocacy work, part of which included the presentation of a revised version of the Student Guide.
Fiore-Chettiar and Bourff presented to a panel of seven members from the University Board of Trustees, who comprise the Student Life Committee.
The meeting was one of four annual sessions in which the University Board of Trustees meets with UGBC—occurring in June, September, December, and March.
The sessions facilitate ongoing transparency between the Board and UGBC as a means to generate commentary, revision, and feedback on UGBC’s proposed initiatives, as well as a platform for discussing relevant student issues and concerns.
“The purpose of these meetings is to update them on UGBC’s progress, and give them an idea of what students care about on campus,” Fiore-Chettiar said. “Something that we’ve worked really hard to do is to keep our presentations consistent, and show them not only what initiatives we’re working on, but the progress that we’ve made on them.”
In an effort to maintain consistency and fluidity between meetings, UGBC addresses three overarching areas of concern in each meeting with the Board of Trustees: strengthening and clarifying student rights and the student voice, addressing campus climate issues, and increasing quality of student life.
At the meeting, Fiore-Chettiar and Bourff discussed UGBC’s priorities for addressing these issues through various proposals and initiatives. The revised Student Guide was a main priority for the initiative to strengthen and clarify student rights and the student voice.
“We also used the time to advocate directly for the 9,100 students that UGBC represents, and at the intersection of those two points was presenting UGBC’s work with OSI and the Dean of Students regarding revising the student guide,” Bourff said, in an email.
The desire to revise the Student Guide was initially introduced in a meeting with the Board of Trustees last spring, and members of UGBC have since been developing a revision.
During Friday’s meeting, UGBC leaders provided the Board with an update on the purpose, progress, and revisions made to the finalized draft of the Student Guide. UGBC sought to not only discuss the series of modifications made in the proposed guide, but also to explain the broader, overarching goals of the guide and to implore the Board for advice and insight.
“We talked about the focus groups that we conducted, the surveys, the over 50 institutions that we’ve benchmarked, the town hall, and we discussed the three themes that we came up with for our proposal, which is student rights and responsibilities, free expression, and conduct.” Fiore-Chettiar said. “On a larger scale, we talked about how this [meeting] is really about what the spirit of the student guide is, and what we want it to accomplish.”
Fore-Chettiar noted that students are mostly unfamiliar with the student guide and often only check it to determine their sanction after a disciplinary issue. UGBC’s proposed revisions to the guide are intended to improve its clarity, accessibility, and relevance to the student body.
UGBC was not seeking out any formal decision on the proposal, but rather the advice and guidance of the board when they presented their proposed revisions before the Board of Trustees. The presentation served as a benchmark of progress that UGBC has made in revising the guide, but more changes will be made after the proposal undergoes further revision by both the administration and UGBC’s Institutional Policy Review Committee.
The final proposal will be made as a result of the collaboration between both parties. The guide presented at Friday’s meeting was UGBC’s final draft of the proposal, but not the final proposal. UGBC will present an updated draft of the proposal before the Board at their meeting in March, to inform them of any further progress and revisions.
The Board of Trustee’s response to the proposal was widely positive, with no major concerns raised about any material presented. They expressed their approval of the intentions and iterations of the guide, after previously expressing concern in June about the immensity of the undertaking, Fiore-Chettiar said.
“The Board reacted positively to the progress UGBC has already made and really appreciated how UGBC was looking not only to revise specific policy points, but also the spirit of the student guide, making it more of a continuous resource for students and administrators throughout the school year,” Bourff said.
Friday’s meeting was concurrent with UGBC’s Student Guide Revision Committee meeting with the Office of the Dean of Students (DOS) and the Office of Student Involvement (OSI) to discuss revisions to the Student Guide in greater detail.
“While UGBC took a holistic approach to revamping the student guide [in the meeting with the Board], we focused on a ‘free speech and expression’ proposal, a rights and responsibilities document, and conduct changes,” said Thomas Napoli, a member of the Student Guide Revision Committee and A&S ’16, in an email.
Although both meetings were distinctive in their proceedings, they were ultimately unified in their purpose—the clarification of student rights through the revision of administrative policies.
“We have seen encouraging steps toward increased cooperation between students and administrators,” Bourff said. “We are going to keep pushing and working for students and their rights, and I think that the administration has shown that they care about students by working tirelessly with us on the revisions.”
Featured Image by Daniel Lee / Heights Senior Staff