The Undergraduate Government of Boston College hosted a virtual town hall on racism on Monday night with the purpose of having an honest and respectful conversation about racism in the United States and at BC.
“The town hall, by itself, will not resolve present issues, but is a good first step toward identifying issues that continue to not only linger in our society but here at Boston College as well,” read a UGBC post about the event.
The conversation was facilitated by three Black students, each of whom posed a question and offered their own thoughts before opening the floor for responses. Conor McCormick, UGBC director of Diversity and Inclusion and MCAS ʼ22, stressed that all participants should listen to understand rather than listen to react. About 30 people attended the town hall.
Yves Oubida, MCAS ’21, began by asking how and why students should address issues around racism.
Students discussed the existence of racism at BC and said that the community needs to work toward institutional change constantly, not just in response to specific events.
Students reflected on past instances of racism at BC, including the racist vandalism on campus in December of 2018. Students also described how they were moved by the Silence is Still Violence march in October 2017 in response to the defacing of Black Lives Matter signs on campus and a racist Snapchat that spread around social media.
One student proposed that BC students collaborate on a list of needed changes to present to the administration as a petition.
Caitlin Gardner, CSON ’21, asked students what forms of action they wish to see from UGBC and other student organizations to enact change at BC and hold the community accountable to BC’s mission of creating men and women for others.
One student suggested that UGBC make a donation to a charity fund related to the Black Lives Matter movement or match student donations to those funds. Another student proposed that UGBC look to fundraising actions taken by the undergraduate government of Boston University, which included the promotion of a GoFundMe page, as an example.
Christian Guma, UGBC president and CSOM ʼ21, said that UGBC’s bylaws prevent the student government from donating money from its budget or spending it on anything other than the student body but that UGBC will spend its funds directly on what is best for the student body.
One student suggested that UGBC and other student organizations make an effort to be more approachable and accessible to students. The student urged UGBC to be more transparent and hold administrators accountable for their racist actions.
Chinenye Ugocha, MCAS ’21, then asked students about their encounters with racism and how the student body can work to make the culture and systems on campus more inclusive.
Students discussed their personal experiences with racism at BC and the isolation of being the only Black student in a room. Students discussed a possible addition to the First Year Experience beyond DiversityEdu to better address racism, with one student noting that freshmen are not the only group of students needing additional education on racism.
Jack Bracher, a UGBC senator and MCAS ʼ22, proposed a program where students could sign up for a conversation group that would meet over dinner, but he acknowledged that groups would likely not be able to meet in person over a meal during the Fall 2020 semester due to BC’s social distancing guidelines. Kevork Atinizian, UGBC Vice President and CSOM ʼ22, said that students who would sign up for an anti-racism program are likely to be those who need it least.
Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Editor