Editor note: Below is a letter from UGBC executives to the community following the 2016 presidential election.
Dear Members of the Boston College Community,
This past Tuesday, our nation voiced its collective opinion regarding our president for the next four years. As your student representatives, we would like to add our voice to the ongoing dialogue in our community and country.
The Undergraduate Government of Boston College has dedicated itself to the task of building an inclusive student community that celebrates the diversity of its members. We work on behalf of those whose interests and needs go either unheard or unmet—and stand up for the right of all students to exist free from intolerance—with the ultimate goal of improving our campus community. We believe that only through acceptance and respect can our university meet its mission of excellence.
We are committed to representing every student at Boston College. Despite the polarizing dialogue of the election season, UGBC has encouraged critical and active exchange of thoughts and ideas across political lines by hosting educational events with collaborators from the Division of Student Affairs’ Civic Engagement Committee.
However, some of the rhetoric and debate of this election cycle has strayed from respectful political discourse, inciting acts of hatred and violence. As a result, many of our students—especially students of color, queer students, students with disabilities, students who have experienced sexual trauma, immigrant students, and Muslim students—have felt the need to defend their livelihoods and identities from prejudice on this campus and in our country.
Such language and actions have been labelled as political, suggesting they are topics for debate. Yet the right of students to feel safe on this campus and in this country is not up for debate; the right of students to feel welcomed into, and included in, our campus community is not up for debate; the right of students to discover and develop their authentic selves free from fear is not up for debate.
As individuals at a Jesuit, Catholic university, we are uniquely charged to be “men and women for others,” meaning that we live to care for the common good. In times of division, we are especially charged to care for those whose voices are suppressed and identities undervalued.
As a result, we all must stand up to bigotry and intolerance directed toward anyone in our community or country. We all must exercise empathy and compassion and remember that they cannot be reserved for a select few.
How we deal with hardship defines us. This process begins with identifying our values and the ways in which we will defend them. We do not have all of these answers now, but we can move closer to them as we engage in dialogue and action together.
For our part, UGBC will never stop fighting to improve the student experience and to ensure that students of all backgrounds and identities feel protected and accepted.
Russell Simons, President of UGBC
Meredith McCaffrey, Executive Vice President of UGBC
Alison Hiatt, Chief of Staff of UGBC
Collin Pratt, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion
Theresa Rager, Vice President of Student Initiatives
Kyle McCormick, Vice Presiednt of Student Organizations
Emily Yu, Vice President of Communications
Niki Patel, Vice President of Financial Affairs
Zachary duBoulay, Director of UGBC Leadership Academy
Lynn Petrella, Director of UGBC Leadership Academy
Anne Williams , Chair of GLBTQ+ Leadership Council
Akosua Opokua-Achampong, Chair of AHANA Leadership Council
Mary Royer, Chair of Council for Students with Disabilities
Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Staff