Michael Osaghae, MCAS ’20, and Tiffany Brooks, MCAS ’21, defeated Taylor Jackson, MCAS ’21, and Alejandro Perez, MCAS ’21, in the race for president and executive vice president (E.V.P.) of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College. The non-binding referendum calling on BC to divest from fossil fuels also passed.
“We are honored and excited to serve as your UGBC President and Executive Vice President for the upcoming year,” Osaghae and Brooks wrote on their campaign’s Facebook page. “We look forward to amplifying the voices of all and instituting changes that will advance the goals of our student body and improve our institution as a whole.
“We are both aware of the responsibility that comes with these positions, and will work tirelessly to ensure that UGBC engages our entire student body passionately and adequately.”
Osaghae and Brooks received 1,838 votes, while Jackson and Perez received 576. Each class and school’s majorities voted in favor of Osaghae and Brooks.
Sophomores cast the the most ballots out of any class, logging 827 votes. A total of 613 freshmen, 549 juniors, and 425 seniors voted as well.
The Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences boasted the most voters by school, with 1,528 of the voters hailing from MCAS. The Carroll School of Management had the next highest total with 485 voters. One hundred eighty-three Lynch School of Education and Human Development and 118 Connell School of Nursing students voted.
On the referendum, students tallied 2,005 “Yes” votes and 374 “No” votes. No majority of an individual school or class voted against the referendum.
Only 25.8 percent of the student population voted in this year’s presidential election, the lowest turnout rate of the decade.
Both campaigns centered their messages around creating conversation surrounding diversity and inclusivity, as well as more successfully representing varying student voices on campus.
Osaghae has served the BC community not only as chair of the AHANA+ Leadership Council (ALC), but as a resident assistant, orientation leader, and compass mentor, as well as serving in the Student Assembly (SA) prior to becoming ALC chair. Brooks has participated in the Student Admissions Program, theatre, chorale, and Campus Ministry, in addition to serving as the music, arts, and performance senator for UGBC.
Their reactions to being elected were slightly different—Brooks said she screamed when she found out they had won, Osaghae said he was shocked into silence. Both said they understand that winning is just the start of their efforts to try to implement their extensive campaign platform.
At the moment, Osaghae and Brooks are still concentrating on their current roles within UGBC and beginning to reach out to administrators to try to improve their relationships with as many people within the University as possible.
Their primary concern comes from the section of their platform titled “Intersectional Experience,” which covers improving the experience of marginalized groups on campus, particularly concentrating on the black and LGBTQ+ populations on campus. Expanding the Thea Bowman AHANA Intercultural Center is a major priority for the duo, even if that expansion may not be actualized during the year they serve in office.
They’re also trying to build on the work of prior administrations in order to re-energize interest in UGBC by bringing in different student groups to consult on what UGBC should be working on.
“Voices that haven’t always been heard at the table … [need the opportunity] to voice their opinion, voice their experience,” Osaghae said. “As UGBC, we’re advocating for different groups on campus, but are we bringing these populations to the table with us, side by side? That’s going to be a focus for us.”
Osaghae and Brooks said they learned from the campaign just how demanding a job leading UGBC will be—the closest experience to that is campaigning. Brooks said that she also learned how important both creating transparency for UGBC and advocating for it among administrators will be during her tenure.
“When we were going around door to door, when I was in the mods … every door I was asking was what do you want to see, what would you change,” she said. “A lot of the responses were just transparency—presence of the administration. … Just being super open about what we’re doing and the process so that people are more informed [is vital.]”
Osaghae said he was particularly proud of his campaign team for engaging in “authentic, genuine” conversations with voters—he explained that he believes such conversations force him to consider what kind of leader he needs to be for all kinds of students.
All of their efforts are intended to try to re-engage students with UGBC through outreach and making sure students feel involved in what UGBC is working on. Osaghae described the UGBC mentality as, at times, “insular,” which he said helped neither the organization nor the student body. Both he and Brooks are targeting the elections that take place at the end of the academic year for 2019-20’s senators as a prime opportunity to regain voters and fight back against apathy by working harder to ascertain how UGBC can best make a difference for students.
Brooks said she’d be bringing back and making more prominent the “Senators in Residence Halls Initiative” that Ignacio Fletcher, current E.V.P. of UGBC and MCAS ’20, created last semester in order to improve the SA’s presence on campus. In addition, she’s planning on working internally with senators on communicating with the particular student populations they’ve run to represent, as well as working on communication with the different student publications on campus in order to keep them more in the loop on what the SA is working on week-to-week.
Ultimately, Osaghae’s biggest concern going forward is actualizing the progress he and Brooks have endorsed. He said he feels he owes UGBC—he’s been involved in the organization since his first year on campus—and not living up to the mantle of the office he’s won is something that concerns him. Osaghae explained that he recognized, both from studying up on previous administrations and from the ones he had worked as a part of during his time at BC, that not every administration is able to accomplish all it sets out to do. His primary priority is nailing down the aspects of his and Brooks’ platform so the governmental body can throw its entire weight at the most important issues affecting BC.
A large part of that issue, to him, is engaging both with student needs—which tend to be short term—and what the administration is working on—which tends to be long-term projects.
“I think students have this perception that UGBC should be aiming for changes within a one-year span—something you’ll be able to see, whereas administrators are thinking about our University years down the line,” Osaghae said. “[How] we can grapple with both fixing things in the short term but also building more blocks for the long term, and trying to find a balance between the two is something I think we’re challenged with.”