Anonymous Boston College 'poster dump' challenges campus free speech policies

A group of anonymous Boston College students papered the campus with posters October 13 to protest speech policies which they believe limit free expression.

The posters say “This poster is still illegal. Support Free Speech @ BC.”

The “poster dump” was organized in response to a failed attempt by undergraduate student government to convince the university to update its speech policies.

BC’s current speech policy states that clubs must be registered to post materials on campus. Some clubs, such as Climate Justice at Boston College, are not currently registered organizations and cannot utilize official channels to hang fliers or reserve campus spaces.

Undergraduate student president Thomas Napoli and vice president Olivia Hussey led the effort to change the policy. The student government’s proposal called for liberalizing the college’s control over the posting of fliers. Napoli said he believes that the religiously affiliated university wants to limit expressions of speech which contradict the university’s values.

Napoli told student newspaper The Heights that student government leadership “realize[s] that this is a complex subject at a Jesuit, Catholic University” but that they are “more committed than ever in allowing students to practice free speech and expression on campus.” Another student said that the university was “cracking down on free speech that is counter to their values.”

Dean of Students Thomas Mogan insists that the rule is a practical rather than ideological matter on the almost 15,000 student campus. Mogan told The Heights that facilities management already expends many resources to “take down posters that were in some cases a nuisance and in some cases a safety hazard.”

Boston College has over 250 registered clubs covering a diverse range of opinions including social justice groups, an LGBT group, and over 25 religious organizations.

The group hanging the posters plans to continue. One anonymous student posting the flyers warned the university, “Expect to see a lot more of them.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @JMietus