At the end of last semester, the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) called for a plan of action from the administration regarding race and institutional racism to be released Jan. 19. Despite the push for a response and changes made by UGBC on the working proposal earlier this month, the administration chose not to release a statement or plan this past Tuesday.
Since the initial release of its working proposal, UGBC has been working with Barbara Jones, Vice President for Students Affairs and Dean of Students Thomas Mogan to create a proposal. This has included benchmarking other schools, as well as adding its own recommendations about what a proposal would look like in order to assist in the process.
“We are committed to continuing the dialogue with students around issues they have raised,” Jones wrote in an email. “We look forward to discussing with UGBC their concerns, correcting some misperceptions, and sharing our mutual commitment to diversity and inclusion.”
After receiving the UGBC document Jan. 4, a meeting between the administration and UGBC was scheduled for this Friday, Jan. 22. Jones said that in addition, the administration is continuing listening sessions which they started last semester. This will begin again with a dinner that is scheduled with graduate students next week. As a University community, it is important to engage in issues in a manner that is reflective, thoughtful, and thorough, said Jones.
“For us, it’s incredibly disappointing to not see the administration adopt any proposal of their own,” Thomas Napoli, president of UGBC and MCAS ’16 said.
On Jan. 20, UGBC posted the proposal it had given the administration on its Facebook page, along with a note expressing disappointment. This was the first time the proposal was released to the public. Napoli explained that the group has transitioned to bringing its information to the public to be more transparent. The document, titled Towards a More Inclusive Community, outlined the group’s vision for an inclusive environment on campus, as well as suggestions for the administration on how to achieve this inclusion.
“Even though this wasn’t the announcement we were looking forward to making, at this point we really wanted to be able to say we have this plan and it’s going forward,” Olivia Hussey, executive vice president and MCAS ’17, said. “Even though that hasn’t happened yet, we really wanted to be transparent in what has been happening in the meetings with ourselves and the administrators for three months now.”
The document is broken down into a preamble, an overview of the action plan, and has categories of institutional support, academic, campus climate, and education. The preamble includes a call for the University to create a long-term strategic action plan “to foster an institutional transformation and ultimately, an intellectually-enhanced environment.”
“For us, it’s incredibly disappointing to not see the administration adopt any proposal of their own.”
– Thomas Napoli, president of UGBC and MCAS ’16.
Napoli explained that the administrators left the door open to create an action plan, but never indicated whether they planned to release one or not. Members of UGBC had not received any information indicating progress to create or adopt the plan UGBC had proposed.
“They haven’t reached out to us at all,” Napoli said. “So, for us, we’re going off of the fact that there has been no statement, which is a statement of itself, and taking that as a signifier of no action.”
Napoli said that despite the group’s effort to use all of the resources within the structure given to them by the University, he now feels that UGBC is in a position where this structure is not working.
UGBC plans to release a statement soon on what its response will be. This may include getting more student support, as well as looking to alumni and professors, Napoli said. Hussey expressed the group’s determination to pursue the issue of institutional racism and to change BC’s racial climate.
“It’s important to remember the ‘why,’ because it can be easy in this world to take things personally or look at the people you’re working with and just remember that the real issue that’s at play right now is for many students of color we are getting reports that BC doesn’t feel like a home to them,” Napoli said.
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor