Students blame peers’ privilege for social justice apathy
Students at Boston College are blaming their peers’ privilege for their apathy toward social justice protests on campus.
In a column published in The Gavel, BC’s progressive student paper, called “Do we have a voice? Free speech at Boston College”, campus administrators and critics of social justice protests are said to often discredit the efforts of protesters as effects of “coddling” and an “increasingly sensitive young adult generation”.
"[M]any of our students are very privileged and take little interest in changing the status quo."
According to Kwesi Aaron, a leading member of “Eradicate BC Racism” —a group that interrupted a Board of Trustees meeting in December to deliver a list of demands to the tune of Christmas carols—BC is “diametrically opposed to the group” because it suggests that BC suffers from institutional racism.
Aaron also believes that by making campus organizations register for protests, they’re censoring the messages to suit what the administration believes is “appropriate.”
According to Connor Kratz, a Undergraduate Student Government Assembly Senator at BC, part of the issue is privileged study body toward issues that don’t directly affect them.
“I believe part of the issue with BC's student body in particular is that many of our students are very privileged and take little interest in changing the status quo,” Kratz said, “and it's much easier for someone at BC to criticize others for expressing their beliefs than to engage in thoughtful dialogue and understand the actual experiences of our marginalized students.”
Aaron, Kratz and Delia Ridge Creamer, another member of Climate Justice and Eradicate BC Racism, all agreed that student protesters receive backlash from their peers, and that their peers’ privilege creates a challenge for “those trying to make change.”
“Overall during my four years being a member of CJBC I think a lot has changed, but there's a lot more that can be done,” Creamer told The Gavel. “Our voices are starting to be heard more and it seems like the campus stigma towards activism is fading so that's been exciting to see.”
Aaron thinks the university’s reluctance to combat racism is a result of a larger system at place, comparing BC to a business that aims to please wealthy, white families.
“To address the contentious issues that Eradicate brings to the table would be to threaten these major benefactors, present and future, who they rely on to fund their expensive projects and operations,” Aaron said. “It's not wrong to cater to donors, but there is no mechanism through which those without a great deal of money, or a great deal of numbers (like black students) can influence decisions, because NOT addressing our concerns is more financially expedient.”
Recently, social justice groups at BC have ramped up their efforts on campus, including a recent instance when a group of four students petitioned administrators to change the school’s core history requirement because it was too “Eurocentric.”
Only a single course in the core history requirement explicitly mentions Europe.
“Change certainly hasn't come as fast as we've needed it to, however we are making progress in the ways that are possible,” Kratz said. “I'm very confident and appreciative of all the hard-working student advocates at BC who are making a difference in their own ways every day on the BC campus, and are not easily deterred. I have high hopes and goals for many of our campus causes in the upcoming year.”
Follow this author on Twitter: @marl_boro26