The following letter was jointly written by the Undergraduate Government of Boston College’s Executive Council, in response to the “Black Lives Matter” movement and questions of racial injustice on campus.
To members of the Boston College community:
Over the past six months, and particularly the last few weeks, we as an undergraduate government have been reflecting on an issue that has divided our friends, our families, and our community. The killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice have sparked rallies and protests across Boston College’s campus, the city of Boston, and the nation. At the same time, the news of their deaths and the grand juries’ decisions not to indict have been received with silence from far too many. In the aftermath of these decisions we struggle to comprehend and resolve overwhelming feelings of frustration and confusion. For many of us, these incidents are yet another reminder that there is a daily struggle in this country to achieve social justice, peace, and equality. As we work to make sense of all this, to achieve progress in these moments of despair, we urge members of our community to stand in solidarity and move actively towards change.
We recognize that this is not just about the deaths of three people, but rather a systemic issue that continues to perpetuate racial injustices that affect us all as individuals. “Black Lives Matter” is more than just the slogan of a movement—it is the proclamation of a truth that has not yet seen reality in our criminal justice system. To that end, we will continue to work on specific policy initiatives and educational programming that address these larger issues as they play out on our campus. Still, we find ourselves baffled by the way in which this conversation has permeated into the discourse of our community and our nation.
As leaders of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC), we stand in full support of those who have made their voices heard about issues of justice and racial inequality, whether through public protests, news publications, social media, or one-on-one conversations. We also respectfully disagree with Boston College’s decision to consider disciplinary action against students who participated in the die-in staged in St. Mary’s Chapel on Tuesday, Dec. 9. Students have found little solace in the tepid responses from Boston College, and are understandably voicing their frustration. Despite disagreement among administration and students over the logistics of the die-in, there is no excuse for the lack of response from the University regarding the issue of racial injustice.
That being said, it is important to acknowledge the steps that certain administrators have taken to support students in the wake of the indictment results. Before Thanksgiving break, many administrators reached out to student-run organizations to host an open forum in O’Neill Plaza, giving students a place to voice frustration, promote unity, and advocate for change. When they realized that students and faculty had already planned their own events for the same evening, they respectfully altered their plans and hosted a simple yet powerful prayer service in O’Neill Plaza instead. Moving forward, we hope that administrators will continue to express their support in words and in action. We also urge Boston College and the Jesuit community to more clearly articulate their response to the national discourse and the needs of students.
In the upcoming months, UGBC will continue to work on the initiatives that aim to address racial injustice on campus. Among these include running the Backgrounds program, releasing a report on the experience of AHANA faculty, and addressing the way race permeates conversation at Freshman Orientation. However, we cannot do this alone. We encourage students who want to see a stronger cultural diversity core and more administrators and faculty of color to reach out to us. We implore those of you who see the need for greater activism and free expression on campus to share your opinions. Our voice is only as strong as those of the students we represent. We have a unique opportunity to share your ideas, passions and concerns with administrators on a weekly basis. We need your support in working for lasting change on our campus, and consequently in our nation.
If you are interested in sharing your thoughts and ideas, please take to our online student forum: campusvoice.ugbc.org. Additionally, feel free to email Nanci Fiore-Chettiar at [email protected] or Connor Bourff at [email protected] to share your ideas and opinions, or if you would like to speak with fellow students who care passionately about social justice and racial equality.
Your fellow students,
Gabi San Martin
UGBC Executive Council 2014-2015
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor