Boston College ignores student demands, threatens protesters with suspension
Leaders of the student group “Eradicate Boston College Racism” (EBCR) were summoned to the Dean of Students office and cited for organizing an unregistered protest after the group interrupted a Board of Trustees meeting in December.
Late last year, student activists protested outside the doors of a Board of Trustees meeting and sang a collection of parody Christmas carols, including a spoof of the popular carol “Winter Wonderland.”
“Students have a right to express themselves, but they do not have the right to infringe upon others’ rights to a non-disruptive environment.”
“Dear Trustees, are you listenin’?/ A real plan, you are missin’/ Until you agree/ and change do we see/ we’re walking through a white man’s wonderland,” they sang.
EBCR members also delivered a list of demands during the protest and gave the board until Jan. 19 to respond. Among the demands were calls for more faculty members of color and an increase in funding for diversity initiatives.
“You owe us money and so we are here to ask for that money. We are here to ask to invest the money that we gave you for the promise of Jesuit ideals being acted upon,” student Kwesi Aaron, a member of EBCR, shouted during the protest.
The deadline laid out by protesters has now passed and the Board of Trustees has not responded to the list of demands. Instead, five student activists were asked to meet with Dean of Students Thomas Mogan, who warned the students against organizing unregistered demonstrations and threatened to suspend students in the future.
“Students have a right to express themselves,” he said. “But, in conducting demonstrations, they do not have the right to infringe upon others’ rights to a non-disruptive environment.”
According to Mogan, all on-campus demonstrations must be registered with the university and students must request a permit before the protest begins. Mogan said the university has successfully registered at least five protests on campus over the past year, indicating administrators are willing to work with student activist groups. However, Mogan said the university already warned EBCR about the consequences of unregistered protests after the group distributed hundreds of fliers on campus without the administration’s approval.
EBCR indicated it will continue to organize protests despite multiple warnings from university administrators.
“We will continue to protest around the issues of institutional racism until the concerns of students of color that have been raised and now backed by UGBC are concretely addressed by the administration,” student Gloria McGillen said. McGillen was one of five students asked to meet with Mogan.
Since the December protest, the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) has endorsed EBCR and published a statement in support of their peers.
“Yesterday, January 19th, was the day that UGBC called on the Boston College administration to release its comprehensive action plan to create a more racially inclusive campus. As of now, the administration has released no statement and has not hinted that they will do so in the future. The fact that nothing has been released is not only disappointing, it also embodies the larger Boston College administrative inclination to be passive and largely inactive in confronting institutional racism,” UGBC posted on Facebook along with a copy of a seven-page diversity proposal, which calls for an “online cultural sensitivity training for new students,” a “Bias Incident Response Team,” and a campus-wide “Conscious Week.”
“Despite well-intentioned efforts by administrators, faculty, and staff, an environment of support, inclusion, and equity for people of color is currently not the reality. In order to uphold the mission of Boston College, we need to be more inclusive and transformative in our learning and actions,” the proposal states.
At the same time, EBCR posted a statement criticizing the university for ignoring student demands.
“When asked to make a material commitment similar to that of Brown University or Yale University, the BC administration has once again been silent. We know they have the resources to do more, as they continue to promote a successful “ Light the World” fundraising campaign, based on Saint Ignatius’ call to Jesuits to “go set the world aflame” in their work for justice. BC students who stand up for social justice and accountability are being handed out discipline rather than collaboration and support,” the group wrote.
Jack Dunn, university spokesman and director of the Office of News and Public Affairs, told The Heights that administration is willing to discuss UGBC’s diversity proposal but expects a respectful and civil dialogue.
“None of us is opposed to having difficult conversations,” Dunn said last semester. “But the expectation is that they be respectful, civil, consistent with steadfast academic principles. So if they’re willing to work with us, we’re willing to work with them. But this policy with disruption at the expense of communication, at the expense of dialogue, we think, is unproductive.”
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