I was disheartened after reading the latest drama in the saga of this year’s UGBC Executive elections. In the article entitled “Impeachment Talk Was Overreaction,” The Heights’s Editorial Board wrote and published the following statement: “While [Steve DiPietro’s] post demanded a swift response from UGBC—which it did with a statement posted Friday on Facebook—the charges in the impeachment resolution are somewhat overblown.” I could not disagree more. Not on the basis of free speech, a notion I strongly support, but rather because this is an irresponsible claim considering the high stakes of this student election for the future of Boston College.
I do feel as though Reed Piercey and Ignacio Fletcher are extremely qualified and trust they will lead with grace and determination. Still, the attempt led by Taraun Frontis and Aneeb Sheikh after they and/or their supporters were called “blm freaks” was not an overreaction, but rather a powerful statement. I hope this letter lends readers a more holistic context as to why, after this election, many on this campus are left more than a little unsettled, and quite frankly, angry.
On multiple occasions, Frontis and Sheikh’s accomplishments and platform were chalked up to mere identity politics. Piercey and Fletcher are quoted on their own Facebook page as saying “we are not running on the strength of our identities, but on the strength of our vision.” With a more detailed platform, there is no way to deny that Frontis and Sheikh were running on both the strength of their vision, but also their experiences within their identities. Instead, Piercey and Fletcher could have taken after Frontis and Sheikh in explaining what tangible ways they had used their identities, privileged and not, to enact change. Frontis and Sheikh’s entire campaign was built around this, releasing a “Fun Fact” a day on what they had done for campus.
It is in the wake of this devastating loss, that the “blm freaks” comment came to ice the cake. The Heights’s Editorial Board is sadly mistaken to imply this was any sort of intellectual engagement with the movement that DiPietro’s critics must entertain. Not only the manner by which he expressed his opinion, but also the fact that this was the way he chose to characterize all the accomplishments, platform points, and character of Frontis, Sheikh, and their supporters is beyond frustrating. They were placed under standards Piercey and Fletcher were not. This, I came to realize as a co-campaign manager, was the result of not only having students of color as candidates, but also having people whose accomplishments were truly centered around advocacy to raise the voices of marginalized students.
I would gladly open up a conversation about the Black Lives Matter movement, its implications on this campus, and our community beyond. Dehumanizing language, like “freaks,” directly targeted towards mostly students of color though, should be dealt with swiftly and with due process. The UGBC constitution was followed both in letter and in spirit when a resolution was brought up to have a trial in front of the Student Assembly in order to ascertain whether or not this derogatory language is worthy of impeachment. DiPietro’s voluntary resignation only proved he knew most senators would agree his language made him unfit to serve. Frontis, Sheikh, and their supporters’ dedication to UGBC as an advocacy group to raise the voices of marginalized students was highlighted here.
Electing someone who was not even on campus over a candidate who was not only here, but felt the need to act, will be a sore spot for some time to come. Deeming one senator losing his spot an “overreaction” is both an ill-informed opinion and demonstrates a startling lack of empathy.
Amirah Orozco, MCAS ‘19
Featured Graphic by Nicole Chan / Graphics Editor