This is in response to your recently posted entry on Winter Storm Juno that describes how students passed the time during their snowday. In particular, the article detailed an organized snow ball fight on Lower Campus.
The editorial staff of the Heights has decided to use a picture of the snow ball fight featuring a large number of co-eds looking to defend their fort that has Rising Sun Flag flying over it.
Very likely, the students who were no doubt having a great time participating in the snowball fight are unaware that they are flying a the flag of the Imperial Japanese Military and seen as a sign of Japanese Imperialism and aggression. In many parts of the Asia, in particular Korea (both North and South) and China, it is akin to Swastika flags in the west.
I find both the decision to fly the flag in these “war games” and the decision to feature of picture of it to be in very bad taste (although the idea that a random student had a Rising Sun Flag in their dorm ready to be flown is more disturbing). I hope the university I love so much can use this as an opportunity to educate beyond the euro-centric focus of the liberal arts education of Boston College. I loved my time at BC because it exposed me to much more than I initially desired to learn. It is important to not be explosive in response, but to learn from it. This was echoed in 2013 when the UFC great, George St. Pierre wore a gi to the ring featuring the Rising Sun to pay homage to his Japanese martial arts training. When informed of how many view the symbol, he agreed to never wear it to the ring again apologizing that he was unaware that it would offend.
Full disclosure: I, as a Korean-American and double BC grad, was not aware of the true meaning of the Rising Sun until this incident, nor would I expect many other on campus to be either.
This letter is not meant to demonize what has happened in the past, but to prevent any further unintentional reopening of wounds on campus. This is letter is not meant to trumpet ignorance, but expose an absence of education about non-western history. I know BC has come a long way in regards to making students of color (AHANA) feel welcome, but as long as the student body is so strongly ethnically and culturally homogeneous, there will always be stumbles along the way. Diversity is not a celebration, but a wonderful opportunity to learn first hand about others. BC students are up to the task.
LSOE ’05 / LGSOE ’07