Over the course of the week, Boston College facilities management removed about 500 fliers posted in buildings throughout campus. The posters, which read “This Poster Is Illegal – Support Free Speech @ BC” were disseminated by members of an unspecified campus group on Monday. There was a police report filed, Dean of Students Thomas Mogan said, but he is unsure whether there will be a criminal investigation.
Non-registered student organizations are not permitted to post fliers around campus, Mogan said. He noted the rationale behind this policy is that there are limited resources available for students to hang fliers while still keeping the environment clean and welcoming.
The posters arrived prior to the second “Rights on the Heights” rally that will take place on Friday, hosted by the Social Justice Coalition, though the posters did not specifically advertise the event or indicate any relation to the coalition. The event will address University policies that the organizers view to restrict free speech, and among the topics to be discussed is the current process for the approval of fliers, which limits posting to registered student organizations with a stamp from the Office of Student Involvement (OSI). This policy was directly referenced on the bottom of each poster from Monday.
Mogan said the students who are staging the rally have gone through the correct process of applying for and obtaining a permit and will be able to exercise their free speech in their demonstration about the lack of free speech.
“The irony of this is that the students who were given a permit on Friday to go ahead and have a forum where they’re exercising their free speech rights are the same students who are saying there’s no free speech on campus,” Mogan said.
Last semester, Climate Justice at Boston College (CJBC) and the Social Justice Coalition hosted the first “Rights on the Heights” rally with the goal of creating a platform for students to voice their concerns about free speech on campus. Currently, only registered student organizations can host official events or hang fliers. Unregistered student organizations, like CJBC, cannot receive funding or reserve University spaces.
Mogan, who was formerly the director of student involvement at Villanova University, noted that there are similarly restrictive policies in place there and they are not unique to BC. This incident only enforces the need for a policy, he said.
“We have facilities management who spent quite a bit of time … to have to go down and take down posters that were in some cases a nuisance and in some cases a safety hazard,” Mogan said.
Featured Image by Maggie Powers