Spring 2020 photo by Erika Glover
USG leaders shift platform in COVID and BLM environment
Carter and Boes ready to lead in solidarity for students of all identities
By Julie Carle
Harrison Carter and Xavier “Xavi” Boes know their job this fall as Bowling Green State University Undergraduate Student Government (USG) leaders looks a little different than they planned.
When Carter, a senior political science major, ran for president last spring with Boes, a senior communication major and former president of the Latino Student Union, the pandemic was not a thing. Their platform included supporting the Student Counseling Center, protecting student data, and promoting voter registration/education and civility on campus.
They admit those issues aren’t going away, but the global coronavirus pandemic and social unrest in the country have changed their work a bit.
“With COVID-19 really kicking through the door since the spring, we had to restructure and reevaluate what we wanted to prioritize with our leadership,” Boes said. “The immediate focus turned toward student safety and wellness on and off campus.”
As the school year starts, and the coronavirus has been ongoing for upwards of five months, there is still a lot of uncertainty, they said. “We want to make sure that both on-campus and off-campus students are informed and know what to expect,” Carter said.
In the wake of George Floyd and countless other Black American lives lost, Carter and Boes agreed it was important to follow the national conversation surrounding the social justice issue. “But we also thought it was important as a predominantly white institution to have those conversations in support of what was going on in the world we live in,” said Boes, who is proud to serve USG and the university community as a person of color.
They have participated in the local demonstrations and, together with the Black Student Union, wrote a joint statement that was delivered to University and Bowling Green city officials.
“As student organizations whose mission statements include representing students of all identities on our campus, we collectively believe it is important, now more than ever, to uplift the voices of the Black community at Bowling Green State University and within the Bowling Green community,” the joint statement said.
They supported President Rodney K. Rogers’ May 31 email message about the need to work together to “meet this moment head on, and build bridges and be committed to change using a process of shared respect and an honest willingness to listen, learn and evolve as a community.”
On behalf of the students at BGSU, they asked the University and the city police departments to ban the chokehold and stranglehold as accepted forms of arrest or detainment methods, expedite body camera acquisition with a goal of body cameras on all sworn officers by the end of the calendar year and increase de-escalation training for the police forces.
Additionally, they asked BGSU and the city to create police accountability boards to “create an even more accountable law enforcement presence in our community.” The boards would be asked to review investigation reports of complaints and make recommendations to the police chiefs for disciplinary action, consequences or related recommendations and to make recommendations about department policies.
“Even though we represent the entire student body, personally, we don’t know all of the issues that may be out there, so we are trying to use the platform that we have right now and bolster other students up that are the ones experiencing those discrepancies, those concerns,” Carter said. “Xavi and I have a responsibility to make sure their voices are heard by the University administrators and city leaders who need to hear those concerns.”
“We realize many of these changes will take time and that not all issues have been addressed, but the time for action must start now,” Carter said. “We will not stay silent. We will not stay complacent. Instead we will stand in solidarity with the myriad on-campus organizations who support students of all identities as we work to create an even more inclusive environment not only on campus, but within the City of Bowling Green.”