Opinions, Editorials

Editorial: AHANA+ Students Deserve Better

Black Lives Matter. Recent events in Xavier Hall have called into question whether Boston College is a campus that holds this belief among its core values. The vandalism and harassment that have taken place on the Multicultural Learning Experience (MLE) floor this week are a demoralizing reminder that this campus is plagued by racial prejudice and is unable to effectively combat it.

In recent years, BC has seen a pattern of racially motivated incidents on its campus. Most notably, the hate crime committed by Michael Sorkin in Walsh and Welch Halls in December of 2018, and the vandalism of Black Lives Matter signs that led to the Silence is Still Violence march in October of 2017. 

Prompted by the murder of George Floyd this past June, more incidents of racism on campus have come to light on the @blackatbostoncollege Instagram account. The stories of BC students document racism as an everyday occurence on BC’s campus. The residents of the MLE floor reported that this week’s harassment is not a new occurrence.

Students have regularly demanded that the University take forceful action to combat racism on campus, yet again and again—despite their condemnations and their listening sessions—the administration has proven ineffective. 

The University has censored the voices of its students of color. This past summer, the University untagged the official BC Instagram account from all the @blackatbostoncollege posts.   

Rather than giving students an unmediated forum to discuss race on campus, the University created the Forum on Racial Justice in America. The forum may have good intentions, but it is not satisfactory. The conversations that it fosters are led by University-approved panelists, which is not the genuine, uncensored platform that students asked for. 

In response to the 2017 Silence is Still Violence march, the University implemented a prerequisite online course called DiversityEdu for first-year students. The course has consistently been met with negative feedback for not being comprehensive enough. Similar to the Forum on Racial Justice in America, DiversityEdu is well-intentioned, but has done little to address racism on campus. 

Also in response to the Silence is Still Violence march, the University launched the Student Experience Survey, the first of which was conducted in December 2018. While the survey encourages students to share all experiences, both positive and negative, little change has taken place on campus since the launch of the survey. 

BC has a pattern of creating surface-level solutions to racism on campus. This has happened every year since 2017, but students of color still do not have a voice on campus, and many have expressed that BC’s campus is not their home. 

BC’s response to the vandalism of the MLE floor is another example of inadequate University leadership. While the people who vandalized the floor deny that their actions were racially motivated, that’s not what matters. Whether or not an act is classified as a “hate crime” is a legal issue, and it is not what we should be focusing on as a campus. Instead, we should be listening to the students of color who have said that the vandalism on the MLE floor felt like a hate crime. The fact that they perceived it as such says something significant about BC and the culture that exists on its campus. BC is a predominately white institution—65.7 percent of currently enrolled undergraduate students are white—and it is easy for bigotry to thrive in such an environment, especially when the administration does not approach these issues with a sense of authenticity. We must continue to ask ourselves why racism continues to thrive on BC’s campus. 

As a predominantly white newspaper—83 percent of our editors identify as white—The Heights recognizes its inability to truly speak to the changes that must occur in order to create a more inclusive environment on campus, but it is clear that the University must rethink its approach to how it fosters conversations about race on campus. Over the past four years, nothing has changed. We have called for dialogue before, and no meaningful change has resulted. We are disappointed in our school. The fact that BC students have created a more effective and meaningful platform to discuss race than the University has is shameful. 

While the onus should not rest on students of color to educate BC on racism, it is important to listen to them when they do speak out—something the University has largely failed to do. The University should create a more meaningful platform for dialogues on race—not an online module or a panel of approved scholars, but rather an uncensored, authentic, and respectful discussion that centers on students’ emotions and voices.

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, Maddy Romance, Lauren Wittenmyer, Maggie DiPatri, Grace Mayer, Rachel Phelan, Eric Shea, Olivia Franceschini, and Gabriel Wallen .

February 8, 2021