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Expansive, unified movement needed

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2006

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

THE ISSUE: Hate incidents spark rallies, investigations WHAT WE THINK: All students must work for unity

The Heights unequivocally condemns all hate crimes, as we expect all students, faculty, administrators, and members of the Boston College community would. Hate groups, hate speech, and hate in general have no place here.

The incidents of this past week are troubling and abhorrent. The time has come for all of us to speak up and say: "We will not stand for this."

These terrible incidents have the potential to do one of two things to our home - it could further divide it, or it could unify it. It's time to be proactive to make sure the latter comes true.

The question is, how can we achieve this?

This isn't a fight the AHANA Leadership Council or any other organization can take on alone, nor is it one it should have to face by itself. What is at stake is the fabric of our campus, our relations with one another, and our intellectual and social environment. This is not only an issue for AHANA students. This is an issue for biology and history professors, University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., alumni and alumnae, freshmen and seniors, Residential Life and First Year Experience, Boston College Police Department and ODSD, and so on. This is an issue for all student groups and all students on campus. As concerned students, we are ready and willing to push forward an effort to create a more unified campus. We hope that all student organizations, regardless of their specific mission, are prepared and willing to contribute to this groundswell.

This must turn into a campus-wide movement. Not an ALC-led movement. Not a Global Justice Project-led movement. What we need is a student body-led movement. It is the obligation of all student leaders - as there must inevitably be leaders of any movement - not to take the support of the student body for granted, and provide students with a specific cause, a sense of importance, and most importantly, a sense of unity.

The TRUTH campaign, launched yesterday through mass e-mails, is a big step in this direction. By demanding that the University clearly define what a hate crime is and the protocol for what to do in the event of a hate crime, among other things, a direction has been set. This is a solid beginning with tangible goals. Other student groups should stand with the TRUTH campaign on these points.

As we saw with the Rally for Equality in the spring of 2005, it is possible to mobilize a large portion of this student body behind a well-defined and well-organized cause. We should all take a page from the playbook of that successful demonstration and remember that publicity and planning is the key to energizing an apathetic campus. The "Gay? Fine by me" T-shirts handed out to students were, and remain, a moving, walking, mass statement that homophobia will not be tolerated here. This is much more effective than fliers, written statements, or banners could ever be. Those T-shirts were not a BC invention, however, but were taken from a nationwide movement started at Duke University. Perhaps this is a chance for us to spread a homegrown movement of our own by creating a visible and far-reaching campaign, backed by a solid core of students.

The ultimate end is a unified campus - unified as Superfans and intellectual counterparts; as friends and neighbors; and as activists against racism, homophobia, gender bias, and other major and minor societal ills.

Without a cohesive campus movement, ultimately yielding a more unified, safe, and welcoming campus in general, racism is going to exist in its various forms at Boston College, and elsewhere. Now is the chance for all of us to ensure that movement for unity happens.

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