Many institutions in the modern age contradict the ideals which prop them up. This is obviously a subjective statement and may be influenced by my cynical outlook on the monoliths to which Americans bow on a daily basis. Nevertheless, you do not have to agree with me in order to read this. In fact, this column might make you angry, which will hopefully make you question what I am saying—that would be the best-case scenario.
Companies like British Petrolium (BP) market themselves as dead-set on investing in clean energy, yet continue to transport oil in unsafe tankers. According to the ITOPF, last year alone, 116,000 tonnes of oil were leaked into our world’s oceans from oil tankers alone. Deepwater Horizon was the largest oil spill in United States history and it took Congressional pressure for BP to finally release underwater video footage of the spill. BP preached clean energy, but was not willing to shed light on the reality of the situation to protect itself.
The counterargument to this example is, “Of course, BP didn’t want to release the footage. They represent the intersection between human nature and good marketing, this institution was to try to save itself.” No. Institutions that serve society are more than organizational value. What is their image in the public? What is their duty to society and the environment? How is this landscape changing before our very eyes?
Take Boston College for an example: BC is an institution in every aspect of the word and a very powerful one at that. Every year, over 30,000 students from across the United States pour their entire being into their application so that a five-minute impression will be enough to receive an acceptance letter. Additionally, think of the grants, breakthrough research, faculty, and lecturers who hope to land a spot on the Heights. Extrapolate these 30,000 applications of last year, over the history of our school, and you have a very powerful institution.
I began questioning BC during my sophomore year when we became the only Jesuit institution in the United States that refrained from declaring our campus as a sanctuary campus for all immigrants. It was so powerful because it contradicted everything I was learning. In my classes, I learned that a certain set of transcendental and innate human rights belonged to every person, regardless of federal regulation. To see that my college was not following through with what it was teaching was shocking. The impermeable Jesuit ideals of a BC experience, which had been ingrained into my identity through PULSE, Arrupe, the core curriculum, and the university’s mottos—“Men and Women for Others,” “Cura Personalis,” “Set the World Aflame,” etc.—underwent a drastic period of questioning.
I cast no blame on BC itself for the DACA rulings, individually-charged racist acts on campus, political upheaval in the Catholic Church, sexual assaults on and off campus, LGBT+ movements, or any other external event along those lines. However, BC is at fault when its response is opposite to the fundamental pillars on which a number of communities from across the United States believe it stands. That is called lying. In writing this, I wanted to refrain from anything that would seem like “attacking” a school that has most definitely had a positive impact on my future and self. Nevertheless, it is also an imperative for current students to respond to the challenges on campus for future classes, and so far, the responses from this administration have been subpar.
It is no secret that BC struggles with racial diversity, but why is BC telling prospective students that its campus is 31 percent AHANA students when AHANA includes categories of “white” in that classification? A white-passing Latina is included as an AHANA student, for legitimate reason, but to market AHANA as being as racially diverse when 4 percent of the student body is black, 9 percent is Latino, and the last 11 percent is Asian seems like an easy overstatement to make (I am using the white-passing Latina as a mere example, this is not to undermine or discredit any part of someone who is a white-passing Latino/a.) If BC truly wants to serve its students, it needs to accept applicants of greater of racial and socioeconomic diversity so that we may introduce a new set of backgrounds into each other’s lives.
The effects of this action would compound. As more diverse student and faculty are accepted at BC, the difference that each of us would bring would be incredibly revolutionary for ourselves and our education. We already know that there is an inherent disparity within educational systems across the United States, so it is harder for students of lower socioeconomic classes to achieve the same type of “success” within the academic realm. People simply need to be given a chance. This is also not to be interpreted as being given a “freebie.” With an endowment of $2.6 billion there is more than enough to provide for a thriving student body of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and socioeconomic statuses.
How does the University expect students to “Set the World Aflame” if periods of its education are spent in fear of being deported, ostracized for being gay, or afraid of being sexually assaulted because the culture at BC is not addressed. Being different is hard enough and to feel like an alien in your own culture is even worse. This is not to say that the problem is exclsuive to BC. In the grand scheme of things, BC is comparatively progressive.
Studies have proven that fear limits the amount of information an individual can process and then retain. What happened to people when BC did not take a stronger stance on the racial incidents over the past four years, did not sign a covenant to protect all of its students regardless of immigration status, and proceeds to follow the Catholic traditions which are anti-gay … it enabled a sense of fear.
I have limited policy experience. I do not know the stress it takes to be on a Board of Directors. I do not know the directorial impact the Catholic Church plays in the fashioning of an education. Nor do I know the immense pressure which individuals face when in positions of power, such as a dean or president. My place in writing this is to pen a surface-level frustration—from the perspective of a student who lives the culture daily—which is far less than the frustration felt by my black/gay/immigrant/assaulted classmates.
To the administration of BC: Fall in line with the principles that this institution preaches, or change the principles entirely. It took a catastrophic engineering failure for BP to make change, what will it take BC to align itself with its own mottos? I believe in the fundamental underpinnings of this school too much to take my traditional education and leave.