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COLUMN: Campus School Brings A Spark

Heights Columnist

Published: Thursday, December 12, 2013

Updated: Thursday, December 12, 2013 03:12

I have stepped foot into the Campus School once—it was freshman year, because one of my best friend’s sisters worked there. I have never run in the marathon for the Campus School, unless you count the mile I ran last year when two of my friends who ran to raise money for the school passed Boston College. I have never met a kid who goes to the Campus School, except in the stories that a girl in my PULSE class would tell our discussion group every week. But when I first heard the Campus School was “shutting down,” my blood boiled. I immediately chalked it up to BC being the business it pretends it isn’t, but totally is. But upon reading some of BC’s Thank-You-For-Smoking-style PR statements, I learned what they said “might” (and by “might” they mean “no matter how much the peasants protest, most definitely will”) happen—that the Campus School was “affiliating with” (and by that they mean “moving to”) the Kennedy School, and I considered a couple things. The first is that, yes, brand-new facilities paired with the great faculty that both schools offer could be very beneficial for the development of the kids at the Campus School. As much as one could argue that the change in location could be traumatizing to a body of students who rely heavily on routine and familiarity, that problem could be remedied by a simple phase-out of the old location. They would have had to move eventually for some reason or another, so why not do it when it would result in giving the students access to some really cool resources, right? And the second is that students will still be able to volunteer and run in the marathon for the Campus School (because otherwise there would be a lot more men and women drinking for others and a lot less men and women running for others). Both the Campus School and the Kennedy School are under-capacity, so merging would be beneficial to both of them. When you think of it that way—not much is really changing besides the location—what’s so upsetting about that, really?

Well, I’ll tell you. 

As much as I have BC to thank for actually explaining what Jesuit ideals are (I didn’t even know that the Jesuits were a thing when I first got here), BC as an institution isn’t what keeps those ideals alive for this school—it’s the students and faculty who really promote and perpetuate ideas of self-giving love. I have learned more from conversations with my peers than from any mission statement the higher-ups here have put out. The administration’s decision to relocate the Campus School puts them out of sight and out of mind. Really effective service happens when you not only give your time and energy to a marginalized group, but use that experience to change your space (shout-out to my Arrupe friends). So many children grow up in schools where special needs kids are teased, or where the word “retarded” is used as an insult. But at BC, no one uses that word to put someone else down, and if they do, they are reprimanded for it. Taking away the people who inspire that kind of attitude would change that about BC culture. With a student body that is so homogeneous, it is essential to have students here who are not only different, but who many students learn to see as the same.

The Campus School is currently an integral part of campus life, and I am afraid to say that taking them off campus would only separate them from mainstream BC society. One of the great things about BC is the commitment of the students to service—the one thing I will say for the BC administration is that it supports and affiliates with a number of these service organizations that make being involved with service so easy here. There are established service organizations that are just an application and an interview away from being on your resume. But the Campus School is one of the few places completely run by BC where you can just show up and help. No e-board, no leadership position, no pregames with your small group, no dining hall point drives, no competing with 100 other students who love “helping people” just as much as you do, just plain old no-strings-attached service. BC is home to one of the top business schools in the country, and we couldn’t find a place in our budget or marketing scheme to keep the Campus School around? If BC was really committed to its Jesuit ideals, relocating the Campus School would not be an option. If there are parents and students who are still willing to be there, then so should we. 

I spent so much of my philosophy and theology core learning about what it means to do service, and the importance of being not just men and women for others but men and women with others, and how if you read the Bible a certain way, Catholicism is really all about the importance of serving the marginalized. And that is so much of what the Campus School teaches its volunteers. As much as I understand that BC’s priority is to make enough money to keep being a school so that it can teach these things to us (that is, if we don’t immediately get untaught those social justice values as soon as we get into classes for our major). But we will never be able to apply those concepts into whatever we decide to do with our lives if we don’t see examples of how social justice can be achieved in every aspect of society. How are we supposed to set the world aflame when BC relocates the spark for many students?

Editor’s Note: The views presented in this column are those of the author alone and do not represent the views of The Heights.

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