Yesterday, over 300 hundred students participated in Boston College’s first Own It Summit, previously hosted by Georgetown University, Notre Dame, and Washington University in St. Louis. Last year, the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) hosted a similar event—the Boston College Women’s Summit. Own It was an expansion on the success of that conference. Sunday’s Summit included breakout sessions and keynote speakers, including Kate White, former editor-in-chief of Cosmo Magazine.
It’s heartening to see the University place such a strong value on women’s issues—Own It aims to empower and educate women. The conference included keynote speakers and breakout sessions on topics like “Cura Personalis” and “What is Beauty?” In planning what major events the school might host, formative out-of-classroom experiences like this should be given highest priority.
BC, however, has been less than eager to bring some other important discussions to campus. Ignatian Q, a conference that discussed sexuality and GLBTQ issues in an Ignatian context, will be hosted at Georgetown this year after BC declined to host it, citing logistical issues when deferring the conference. In a speech given to nearly 100 students at the Rights on the Heights II rally this month, Connor Bourff, executive vice president of UGBC and A&S ’15, alluded to the battles lost by the Undergraduate Government when they have fought for GLBTQ rights. He mentioned that the GLBTQ Leadership Council (GLC) would have been disbanded if it were not part of UGBC.
“I have been told by administrators that if we ever highlight to the student body the homophobia present in our dealings with higher-level administrators, we will ‘awaken the beast’ of conservative Catholic newspapers, donors, bishops, and parents, and we’ll be set back 10 years,” Bourff said in his speech.
Issues women face in entering the workplace remain at the forefront of American public life, and the Own It Summit was a fantastic step toward for the women of BC. It is disheartening, however, that many at the University are still left to stand on the fringes—that BC’s efforts in gender equality must be qualified with a giant asterisk.
This is not to say that BC does not have any resources for GLBTQ students—GLC seeks to provide relevant programming and the Office for Institutional Diversity is listed as a resource online. BC does not, however, have a GLBTQ resource center, such as that at Georgetown. The Women’s Resource Center has some resources for queer and questioning students, but following the sudden disappearance of the Queer Peers program last semester, GLBTQ students are left to feel increasingly unsupported at this institution.
The Own It Summit was founded on the idea that participants own their successes, their opinions, and their differences, and in its future development, the University would be wise in embracing this brave mantra of the summit’s organizers. On issues of gender and sexuality, there’s room for more successes, more opinions, and more differences at BC.
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor