BC Students Have A Tradition Of Creating Change On Campus

The Heights has a rich history of being a proponent for change at Boston College while still informing the student body of life outside of the University. Looking through Heights issues from the past gives a unique perspective of how our nation has grown as a whole, and how we have dealt with certain problems. For example, an issue of The Heights on this date from 1949 featured an article about Germany being a threat to world peace. As the Cold War was starting to become a pressing issue, the author of the article noted that Russia was not the only hindrance to world peace: nationalistic post-World War II Germany was also a danger. The writer advocated for a socially reformed Germany and a stronger policy of de-Nazification in order to ensure the growth of a peaceful Germany in the future. Reading this article was so much more satisfying than learning about the Cold War from a history textbook, as it gave a firsthand account from a student just like all of us here at BC.

Exploring previous issues of The Heights for the month of January is especially interesting: January is a month filled with changes and improvements, as members of the BC community strive to better themselves for the new year. A recurring concern for past students of BC during the month of January is one that continues to inspire debate today: tuition. One particularly intriguing editorial from the Jan. 30, 1978 Heights publication gives a view of the mindset of financially frustrated BC students in the midst of tuition increases. A group of 3,000 students stood outside of McElroy in December of 1977 to advocate lower tuition increases, but the University did not grant their requests—until the students decided to storm the Trustee Boardroom.

The editorial notes that the reason for the original denial of the students was to avoid setting a precedent that the administration would give in easily to student demands. Eventually, it seemed that several of the student body’s proposals were taken into consideration, but one that sparked more intense deliberation was the proposal of a guarantee that no student would have to leave BC due to a tuition increase.

Another change integrated into BC student life was the implementation of a UGBC night escort service on the evening of Jan. 30, 1978. It operated from Sunday through Thursday, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., and recruited male volunteers to “ensure the safety of women students who travel on foot at night,” according to the program’s director. While it may be unfortunate that female students were not deemed adequate to escort other students, and that male students were assumed able to protect themselves and did not require the escort service, it seems to have initiated the concern for student safety that led to the eventual development of today’s Eagle Escort service on the BC campus.

BC dining also experienced some changes over the years. Back in 2005, campus dining had been in the process of transitioning from pricing by weight to pricing by container size, in regards to salads, candy, and frozen yogurt. Addie’s was also experiencing a shift during this time, moving from a Mexican-style menu to one including tapas. According to the article “Dining halls undergo change,” there was also mention of molten chocolate cake … can we bring those back?

There also used to be a student-run salad and sub shop in the basement of Roncalli, as evidenced by a 1977 issue of The Heights. MDQ, named for the last initials of the three students who founded the shop, was instituted as a means of having a student lounge center on Upper Campus. As for the funds garnered from operating the shop, 12 percent was allocated toward improving Upper Campus, and the rest was divided among the three Roncalli students who ran the shop. Perhaps if this had continued, life would be a little better for those sophomores on CoRo.

It’s amusing to see how the social scene and entertainment at BC has developed over the years, as well. One of the most notable changes from the past to the present is the disappearance of school dances. Back in 1958, freshmen participated in the “Snow-Ball” dance, while the juniors were holding a “Name the Dance” contest for their semi-formal. While most students today would probably rather go out of their own accord on Friday and Saturday nights, it could be fun to have an excuse to put on a nice dress and socialize with other students in our class once in a while.

The Heights reflects changes in student life over the years, but several aspects of the newspaper itself have also altered over time. For example, the popular “Voices From the Dustbowl” seems to have changed from student opinions on current BC life to random, more entertaining questions. For example, the 1978 issue’s Dustbowl question was, “What do you think about the new UGBC Escort Service?” Each student gave a few sentences describing their position on the aforementioned escort service, and the responses were quite lengthy compared to today’s brief answers. In the Jan. 31 issue of 2005, the question was “Which reality TV show would you kick off the air?” which was met with answers like “Laguna Beach” and “My Sweet 16.”

Another interesting find was from the 1978 issue, in which The Heights had an ad stating that students could have Valentine’s Day messages for their “special someone” printed in the paper for only a dollar. One section of the paper that has also disappeared is the “How To” section, as exemplified by the “How to write a perfect note” piece in the 2005 issue (apparently it’s a multi-step process!).

While many aspects of the BC community and of The Heights have transformed over the years, there are certain things that just don’t seem to change. For example, an article from the January 1978 issue, “BC Students Charged With Lack of Spirit,” closely resembled an article from just this past semester. The writer of the article was appalled that the BC student body was “listless” during athletic events, specifically during men’s hockey games. He made a compelling argument about how the students complained constantly and did everything but cheer for their team, which bears close semblance to the negative attitudes of BC students during this past football season.

It’s amazing to see how different life at BC is now than it was in previous years, and it is nice that we can be reminded of the progress we’ve made and encouraged about what’s yet to come. It is also comforting to know that the BC student body has preserved its passion for advocating change as well as keeping in touch with the vast world around us.



January 29, 2012

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