Opinions, Column

Every Man For Himself And BC Against All

There is nothing like Arts Fest to remind us of the administration’s great sham. Arts Fest is a bait-and-switch that the Boston College higher-ups put on to trick visiting families into thinking this school cares one iota about its clubs. BC’s lip service to the outside world about its thriving grassroots student organization community is the hollow-est smile this side of a strip club.

Look at Middle Campus when the tents go away. They muscled all the banners out of the Quad. Try to put one up even when conforming to the draconian hanging guidelines (like my comedy group did) and it’ll be cut down without notice. Because these laws and regulations are neither beneficial toward student organizations nor even reasonable. They exist for different ends. The administration does what it wants, and what it wants is to silence independent voices. It wants control. So it makes laws that justify its own power. The bureaucracy feeds the bureaucracy.

I recently made a film for my comedy group’s show. (I will not be naming said group due to fear of backlash for this article from the administration.) At no point did anybody affiliated with the administration make filming easier. The grunts in the BC Red Tape Brigade were out in full force to make it more difficult, waving their banners sewn together out of arbitrary rules and regulations. Here are two of many instances of institutional callousness my group has faced:

In Fulton, I was ejected by a passing office worker from a room, which had recently been deemed “a private room now.” I was told that to film in Fulton I needed to obtain “expressed written permission” from some irrelevant dude who was the Vice Whatever of Somethingorother. Or I could just keep filming illegally, which I proudly did. Nuts to their laws. They are grounded on nothing but the self-justification of the lawgivers. The system makes illegal what it cannot control.

In Corcoran Commons, my friend and I spent 90 minutes setting up a simple 10-second shot by the door. A manager came, as I was seconds away from pressing the record button, to inform me I needed “expressed written permission” from another Vice Whatever of Somethingorother (how many people does this school need to hire to confiscate a kid’s camera?) He then told me, when I requested 100 seconds to get what I needed and leave, that he “would have to stand in front of the camera if I started recording.” Asking him why we needed permission to film, his entire response consisted of “The tables.”

We had dragged two tables from the dining area. That was his only justification. “I’m sorry,” he smugly and unconvincingly sputtered. No Mr. Bureaucrat, you’re not sorry. If you were sorry, you’d be doing something to help. Your bureaucratic mind thinks, “How can I do as little as possible in this situation? How can I make less of a choice?” It’s reassuring to hide behind the law. The hassle of decisions and conscience conveniently evaporate.
But, it’s not all bad. One man working in the Plex had the basic human decency to let me get the little footage I needed, albeit after explaining that I need “expressed written permission.” Some bureaucrats have feelings-or at least a sense of reason. He knew my illegal filming occurred to no one’s detriment. It was simply the creative expression of a student organization. But the laws exist to curb exactly that expression. The powers that be can’t tart it up and parade it like a trained monkey through Arts Fest, so they let the snide bureaucrats have at it.
Many of the snide bureaucrats are emotionally numb from years as cogs in a self-purposive machine. But some are students like us. A note to all students involved in components of this system-you do not help. You are the veneer of student-administration cooperation that BC can hide behind while it skillfully evades helpfulness. I levy these suggestions:

If you are a student member of SPO, you should quit.

If you are a student member of SOFC, you should quit.

If you are a student member of NOTH, you should quit.

If you are a student involved in Arts Fest, you should quit.

If you are involved in UGBC and you shmooze and brownnose, colluding with and tacitly accepting the loathsome policies of this administration, you should quit. You can restart UGBC when you sign a pledge to use every meager power afforded to your office to throw some serious bricks. When I wrote a column about UGBC elections, I was positive about the direction and purpose of UGBC. That seems naive to me now. Why bother to take part in discourse when my involvement legitimizes the system that shackles its student body? At least now during election week I don’t have to lie to my friends campaigning. I know where I stand.

Perhaps the lesson many of us in clubs will take from BC is to be Men and Women For Your Own Damn Selves, because the Vice Whatevers sure as hell aren’t for you. Student organizations take notice-the offices and bureaucracies that handle you were not raised up to assist your needs. They were brought down by the higher-ups to deal with you like a pesky nuisance. There’s no place for you in their BC, what with the way you force cracks of humanity through their whitewashed, corporate outer-coating. They’ll just make another law to cover up that crack. Surely they will disagree with this column. I hope they write a response. I genuinely hope to be proven wrong, to be shown one solitary thing they do that helps organizations rather than hinders them. But they don’t need to. They own their school, and we’re just lucky to visit. I’ve never felt less a part of this school. I’ve never felt less like this was a place I could call home.

‘Till next fall, BC.

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

Nate Fisher has been a staff Opinions columnist for The Heights since January 2014. He is a member of the Class of 2015 in the College of Arts & Sciences studying film, philosophy, and history. You can reach out to him on Twitter @fishingwithnate, or just subtweet him. Your call.

April 28, 2014
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