Opinions, Editorials

University Should Provide Housing for Affected Students

The Undergraduate Government of Boston College’s Student Assembly passed a resolution on Sunday that formally establishes UGBC’s support for Muslim students in the wake of President Donald Trump’s divisive executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. The resolution also called upon the University to provide free housing for students affected by the ban during academic break periods.

UGBC is meant to serve as a voice for the student body in administrative affairs. The emergency meeting of the SA on Sunday and the passing of this resolution was a prompt and necessary response to the the concern and uncertainty within the student body following Trump’s executive order.

The Muslim Students Association hosted one of the most attended protests of the year on O’Neill Plaza on Friday, with hundreds of students gathering together. Student and faculty speakers alike moved the crowd with their passionate words condemning Trump’s directive and emphasized unison in a time of stark division. Multiple students in the past week have posted messages in class Facebook groups offering to host students during break periods who are afraid to travel home. There is staunch student support for maintaining the safety and comfort of Muslim students on campus, and the University ought to take the tangible steps that it can to further contribute to this goal.

Last Sunday, University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., along with Executive Vice President Michael Lochhead, and Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley, sent an email to students denouncing Trump’s executive order and expressing support for affected students. Prior to this, Leahy also made an effort to address student concerns during the early stages of Trump’s presidency by signing a pair of statements supporting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama administration executive order that provides legal protections to immigrant students.

While these are commendable actions on behalf of the administration, the University must follow them with more concrete action. The proposition of providing housing for students who are afraid to travel home represents the perfect opportunity. In this testing time, it is imperative that the University acknowledges and acts upon UGBC’s demands.

It is also important that if the University should offer housing for affected students that it be provided free of charge. Muslim and non-Muslim students alike already pay hefty tuition and room-and-board fees, and the University should not seek to capitalize on the needs of a marginalized portion of its students for monetary gain. In reality, the rooms will just be sitting empty for the duration of break periods regardless. To a University sitting on billions of dollars, allowing a group of students to live on campus for an extra week or two will not represent too much of a financial burden.

In the email sent to students, Leahy, Lochhead, and Quigley echoed Pope Francis’s sentiment that Trump’s Muslim ban is antithesis to Christian values. “It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out someone who is in need of my help,” Francis said in a statement included in the email. If the University truly holds Judeo-Christian values at its core, then it will choose to provide housing for these students, in order to not turn away members of its community seeking assistance.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

February 5, 2017