Glints of navy blue, green, and teal sparkled in celebrations around campus after a Friday night announcement that Thomas Napoli, A&S ’16, and Olivia Hussey, A&S ’17, would serve as the president and executive vice president, respectively, of the Undergraduate Student Government of Boston College (UGBC) for the 2015-16 school year. The decision, handed down by the elections committee, came after Napoli and Hussey concluded the election with a 318-point margin over their closest competitors, Cassidy Gallegos, LSOE ’16, and Michael Keefe, A&S ’16.
Candidates James Kale, LSOE ’16, and Jose Altomari, A&S ’16, rounded off the candidate list, finishing third in the race.
Napoli and Hussey earned 1,486 votes; Gallegos and Keefe earned 1,168 votes; and Kale and Altomari earned 758 votes, the Elections Committee posted on Facebook Tuesday. In total, 3,411 students voted—over one-third of the undergraduate student population. The majority of the junior and senior votes went to Gallegos and Keefe, while the majority of the freshman and sophomore votes went to Napoli and Hussey. This is a decrease from last year, when 4,332 students voted.
The Napoli-Hussey campaign platform consisted of three divisions: advocating, uniting, and improving. Much of the team’s plan related to Napoli’s work as chair of UGBC’s Institutional Policy Review committee. A revision of the BC student guide and a comprehensive free speech proposal were central to the team’s proposed reforms.
“Olivia and I are both incredibly honored to have received the support of the BC community,” Napoli said. “We cannot wait to get started working with students across campus in pursuit of a unified campus voice.”
Moving forward, Napoli and Hussey will pick the other vice presidents to make up the rest of the members of the Executive Council. All of the vice presidents will be appointed by Napoli and Hussey except for the vice president of Diversity and Inclusion, which is elected within the AHANA Leadership Council and the GLBTQ Leadership Council. Napoli and Hussey emphasized that their young, enthusiastic team was critical to secure their election. They employed a slightly different campaign strategy than other teams by appointing members of their team to specific roles within the campaign. The majority of their team was freshman and sophomores, Napoli said.
“We really put a lot of trust in our team,” he said. “The real difference, though, was the freshman and the sophomores—all of them have such high hopes for UGBC.”
In the past six weeks, Napoli and Hussey have met with over 100 different people to gauge the University community. As they prepare for office, the team will continue to meet with administrators, like Dean of Students Thomas Mogan and Mark Miceli, associate director in the Office of Student Involvement (OSI), and student leaders outside of UGBC.
The team hopes to be able to work together with students outside UGBC—for example, they would like to be able to meet with presidents of prominent clubs once or twice each semester. The new frontier in advocacy is to collaborate with leaders outside of student government, Napoli said.
Regarding members inside UGBC, Napoli and Hussey want them to focus more on the issues they are passionate about rather than organizational structure.
“Our whole thing is back to basics,” he said. “That means right now Olivia and I need to be prioritizing the organizational structure, valuing the best leaders … really creating a solid groundwork.”
Napoli and Hussey had a 42-page platform that detailed action plans for each of their campaign points. Hussey said this pre-planning will make it possible for them to get started planning events now, rather than spending the next few months making step-by-step plans. She emphasized that they plan to make their goals public at the beginning of the tenure, so that they will be held accountable not just by OSI, but by the entire student body.
Napoli said the team plans to be honest with their advocacy work in order to create a more transparent student government.
“Part of our platform was a transparency platform point—it was more of a philosophy,” Napoli said. “I think that students get disheartened with UGBC when we make big promises and then it doesn’t happen year after year continuously. Just be more realistic: students can handle the truth.”
According to Hussey, UGBC planning usually happens in September, and then the new administration does not tend to get going until around the middle of the fall semester. Napoli and Hussey hope to have every event and initiative laid out on paper and planned out as much as possible before then, including who UGBC will collaborate with and which division events will originate with. Hussey, who in her new position will head the Student Assembly, plans to speak with the 50 elected senators of Student Assembly to gauge what they are interested in working on.
Over the summer, she said, they can start planning, writing proposals, and talking to administrators, so that the senators can come back in September with much of their work planned out.
“We always want to be improving,” she said. “I think now is the best time because now the student body is so engaged with the election and the issues, that now if we continue this conversation immediately we’ll keep them interested and engaged.”
Napoli emphasized that his campaign was dynamic and noted how he and Hussey constantly reevaluated their platform throughout the course of campaign season.
“There’s always a better way to do things,” he said.
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor