Members of the new Jesuit Student Government Alliance (JSGA) met at St. Louis University for the first Winter Summit on Jan. 4. During the event, student leaders ratified a new constitution while also engaging in conversations regarding overlapping problems the Jesuit campuses seem to face.
The JSGA was formed by student government presidents at the 28 Jesuit colleges in the United States in October. The idea for an alliance was solidified among the representatives of each school following the 2018 National Jesuit Student Leadership Conference, where they decided holding a winter summit six months later would be beneficial. Reed Piercey, president of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College, was in attendance during the Winter Summit and found it to be very worthwhile and constructive.
“More than anything, Ignacio [Fletcher, UGBC executive vice president and MCAS ’20] and I hope that JSGA helps create the sense that students at BC are just one part of a larger community,” Piercey said. “Whether someone is looking to collaborate with clubs at other universities, researching other universities policies’ to advocate for something, or just hoping to feel solidarity from students elsewhere, the other American Jesuit universities are now there as a resource for them.”
“One of my biggest takeaways from the Winter Summit was the variety of initiatives being taken by other Jesuit universities to address issues of racism, prejudice, and hate. Other colleges we talked to had created a VP for Diversity & Inclusion position within the upper administration, developed an extensive Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Plan, and started a monthly series of large town halls attended by a substantial portion of the student body, to name a few.”
The constitution, which was ratified during the Summit, provides a detailed structure for the new alliance. In addition to outlining positions and their subsequent duties, the constitution provides a concrete mission statement with multiple goals of the alliance.
“This partnership will ensure representation of all [Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities] students and a unified promotion of Jesuit principles,” the constitution says. “Greater connection between Jesuit colleges and universities will strengthen our commitment to the broader Jesuit Catholic mission while providing opportunities to share unique perspectives on campus issues, government structures and processes, and global concerns.”
During discussions held at the summit, the student leaders were struck by how similar the goals and obstacles they faced were. Two pressing issues that surfaced many times in conversations were providing more LGBTQ+ resources and working to fight racism. Both initiatives were shared concerns among the campus communities, and Piercey noted that other universities are a valuable resource in determining new strategies to achieve these goals.
“Many of us were pushing for increased resources for LGBTQ+ students, and the few universities that had taken tangible steps towards that goal provided a roadmap for the rest of us,” Piercey said. “Some of the other schools had also created innovative ways to increase anti-racism education taking place on campus.”
The alliance provided the student leaders with a better perspective of how each university is facing certain problems and the extent of progress that still remains in terms of those issues. When asked about how the alliance will influence the BC community specifically, Piercey explained that students will have access to information not just from BC but also from the other participating universities.
“The greatest effect that JSGA will have on the BC community is the availability of resources and institutional knowledge across all the AJCU universities,” he said. “Now, through UGBC, any student at BC has a direct line to the programs, initiatives, and experiences gathered by student governments at other Jesuit schools.”
The first action JSGA has taken since the summit consisted of signing onto a comment to the Department of Education, regarding the new Title IX proposed regulations on Jan. 30.
Maddie Deye contributed reporting.
Correction (2/21/19, 10:22 p.m.): This article originally said the summit took place at St. Lawrence University. It took place at St. Louis University.
Featured Image by Taylor Perison / Heights Staff