On Wednesday night, the Student Assembly (SA) of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) considered a proposal that would create a financial committee to oversee UGBC’s expenditures. The committee would be external to UGBC and would include the UGBC president, executive vice president, vice president of financial affairs, and four outside appointees who would apply and eventually be confirmed by the SA. This would change the current process, in which members of the Executive Council—the UGBC president, executive vice president, and vice president of financial affairs only—create the annual budget, which is then approved by the SA. The proposal, presented by Raymond Mancini, CSOM ’19, and Michael Proietta, MCAS ’19, failed to pass an SA vote, losing 22-2.
The purpose of the proposal, according to Mancini, was to encourage debate when passing the budget. He argued that the SA has one ideology and often passes or rejects proposals unanimously without debate. Encouraging increased debate within the SA is an admirable goal, but this proposal did not adequately address the multiple issues and internal complexities that go into drafting the UGBC budget.
As was brought up in the meeting, the proposal would bring in four students, unaffiliated with UGBC, to make budgetary decisions. One problem with this is that students with a purely financial interest could lack the knowledge to understand how financial allocation is handled by UGBC. One example of that is the funding of the Council for Students with Disabilities (CSD), which is part of the Diversity and Inclusion Programming Board. Compared to the other two groups in the board, the AHANA Leadership Council and the GLTBQ Leadership Council, CSD receives considerably less funding. This might appear to be financially unequal, but it comes at the request of CSD, which requested less money for its yearly budget as it holds fewer programs throughout the year. This kind of internal knowledge helps UGBC operate as it should, and a purely outside perspective could easily lack the information necessary to understand issues such as this.
Another potential issue with the proposal was the fact that the four outside students would be confirmed by the SA. If the SA shares a similar internal ideology, which was presented as the problem the committee was meant to address, its role in confirming the students could easily undermine the diversity of opinion it is meant to address. This means that the proposal could easily remove the SA’s internal understanding of the budget without actually removing any potential SA bias.
While this proposal attempted to address a valuable issue, it lacked the necessary knowledge of UGBC’s operations. Improving transparency is a major goal of this year’s UGBC, and should be pursued. Although this proposal was an interesting attempt to improve the functionality of the organization, it was misguided. In the future, attempts to pass proposals that would make large changes to UGBC should be internally consulted beforehand to better prepare for the voting process.
Featured Image by Francisco Ruela / Heights Archives