Opinions, Editorials

Editorial: Men and Women for Others? Or Men and Women Against One Another?

Boston College is sending conflicting messages about what it expects of its students. BC has traditionally encouraged students to be “men and women for others” by looking out for each other and for the greater community. The University’s new reporting hotline, where students can report one another for alleged violations of the Thanksgiving travel requirements, however, is a direct contradiction of its own values. 

Now is not the time to create a hostile environment on campus. 

The original spirit of the Eagles Care Pledge, which students had to sign before returning to campus this semester, is a very Jesuit one—rooted in concern for the well-being of the BC community. It even cited the Bible to encourage students to “love your neighbor as yourself.” But the reporting hotline pits students against one another and echoes a completely different sentiment. 

BC’s relatively low weekly positivity rates this semester indicate that students have largely abided by the Eagles Care Pledge, prioritizing the needs of the community over their own want to socialize. Those who haven’t have been subject to University disciplinary sanctions. Students’ behavior should demonstrate to the administration that they are able to safely abide by the Thanksgiving travel requirements, without the need for reporting forms and hotlines.

Students trusted their administration when they returned to campus in the midst of the pandemic. It is now time for the administration to trust their students. 

Although BC has had a general conduct reporting form in place for the entirety of the semester, the creation of the reporting form specific to Thanksgiving travel is unnecessary and counterproductive. Finding more ways to punish more students is not what the University should be spending their time on. Instead, they should be ensuring that, regardless of whether students choose to go home or remain on campus, they have ample resources.

Everyone in the BC community has made sacrifices to make this semester happen, and each member should be commended for their contributions. That being said, asking students to choose between spending the holiday with their families outside Massachusetts and being able to return to school is a very difficult decision. The University should be making every effort to ensure that students are not tempted to skirt public health guidelines. Instead of trying to catch them for breaking the rules, BC should give students resources that would prevent students from wanting to break them in the first place.

For students who are remaining on campus for the holiday, the University should create more initiatives like the one between BC Dining, RHA, and CAB, which is providing students remaining in Chestnut Hill with a meal kit so that they can make a Thanksgiving dinner with their roommates. This initiative will make spending Thanksgiving away from family easier for many students, and would therefore lessen the temptation to violate BC’s travel policy.

For students who are going home, BC should ensure that they have access to the same quality of education as their peers, especially for classes that are continuing to hold in-person instruction after Thanksgiving. 

With cases of COVID-19 rising on campus and around the country, the University is acting responsibly to ensure that the community is kept as safe as possible. Public health is paramount, but there are better ways to ensure that students do their part to mitigate the risk for COVID-19 transmission—ways that do not turn students against one another during an already difficult time.

A group of Heights editors who are committed to participating in the consistent writing of editorials comprise the editorial board. Editors who report on topics discussed in editorials are not permitted to participate in the discussion or writing of the editorial.

Members: Owen Fahy, Madeleine Romance, Lauren Wittenmyer, Margaret DiPatri, Grace Mayer, Rachel Phelan, Gabriel Wallen, Olivia Franceschini, and Eric Shea

11/22/2020 9:16 p.m. Correction: This article was updated to include RHA as a sponsor of the Thanksgiving meal kit giveaway to students.

November 22, 2020