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University Places CJBC Under Probation Following Divestment Protest

The University placed Climate Justice at Boston College (CJBC) under probation for violating the Student Code of Conduct after students delivered cards with vulgar language to University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., as part of a Valentine’s Day–inspired divestment protest.

Audrey Kang, president of CJBC and MCAS ’22, said the University missed the purpose of CJBC’s protest by only focusing on the language used in the cards.

“I think it was really unfortunate that everything got derailed,” Kang said. “The point was divestment. The point was, what can we do to make this school a better place? And that got totally, totally ignored throughout this entire process. It was about this language issue within the valentines.”

CJBC invited BC students to write valentines on Feb. 10 and 11 that urged BC to “break up” with fossil fuels, delivering them to Leahy’s office on Feb. 11.

“Given the recent article in the Gavel regarding Climate Justice of Boston College, we feel the need to respond to correct some of the misinformation presented in the piece,” Tom Mogan, associate vice president for student engagement and formation, said. “Climate Justice of Boston College delivered to the President’s Office a number of ‘valentines’ that used extremely vulgar and offensive language.”

Kang said the University requested to meet with CJBC about the language in the cards, and CJBC replied that it did not want to meet because the content of the cards was not “the point” of the protest.

“You’re allowed to write whatever you want,” Kang said. “We do not take it under our personal responsibility to censor people.”

The leaders of CJBC were first brought in for an informal conversation to address the language in the cards, according to Mogan.

“The leaders claimed not to have known the contents of the valentines and agreed to write a letter of apology,” Mogan said.

Kang said the three members of the CJBC e-board—herself; Cece Durcan, vice president and MCAS ’23; and Annie Liu, the treasurer of the club and MCAS ’24—claimed they were not aware of the vulgar language in the cards.

“In our first meeting, we claimed to have not seen the valentines, which us three had not,” she said.

CJBC sent an apology letter to the University shortly after the meeting, according to Kang.

“I understand why we had to apologize,” Kang said. “I think that I’m sorry that this happened for sure. I’m sorry that it happened, but I do not think we had much of a choice in the apology.”

Mogan said the University received new information following the first meeting that contradicted the e-board’s claims it had no prior knowledge of the explicit language in the cards.

“After this informal meeting, however, the administration was presented with evidence which clearly demonstrated the group had previous knowledge of the content of the valentines in question,” Mogan said.

BC’s administration decided to place CJBC through a formal conduct process due to this new evidence, according to Mogan.

“As a result of this information and the concerning content of the valentines, the group was referred to the conduct system and was ultimately found responsible for violating the Student Code of Conduct,” Mogan said.

Following the protest, CJBC posted a video on its TikTok account of the cards and protest. Kang said one card shown in the TikTok contained vulgar language, which members of the CJBC e-board told the University they had not seen.

The Heights was unable to confirm the content of the TikTok.

At a second meeting, Kang said the University brought charges against the club for disorderly conduct and falsely claiming to have been unaware of the profanity in the cards, citing the TikTok as evidence the e-board members had seen the language and lied during the first informal meeting.

“They took that as proof that we were lying to them—saying that we hadn’t seen [the valentines], but obviously this TikTok shows one of [the valentines], so [they claimed] we had,” she said.

Kang said she and the other members of the e-board had not seen the TikTok—as the social media team is in charge of the club’s online accounts, and the president, vice president, and treasurer do not review social media content before it is posted.

Kang said the University did not find CJBC guilty for lying, but found the club guilty of disorderly conduct.

“They did throw that accusation out because it just wasn’t true—us as the e-board did not see it, but our social media team obviously saw it,” she said.

According to Kang, the University often conflicts with CJBC because of their “opposing” views.

“I think for them, we’re just a pain in the neck, and anything they can do to kind of bring us under some sort of sanction is what they want to do, which I get—it’s hard you know, we’re opposing teams,” she said.

Kang said she learned right before Spring Break that CJBC was placed on probation for the next year.

Under its probation, CJBC will have to work with the Office of Student Involvement (OSI) to improve its leadership, according to Mogan.

“As part of the conduct process, the group is to work with the Office of Student Involvement to develop a plan to strengthen the group’s leadership in the hopes of increasing the effectiveness of the organization,” Mogan said.

The club must now run every event through the head of OSI for prior approval, Kang said.

“Typically, we’d fill out a form and then just go through [an] online bureaucratic process, but now we have to actually talk to them,” she said. “It is what it is.”

The University, according to Kang, does not want to listen to the club’s call for divestment and has made speaking freely on campus “incredibly difficult.”

Going through the conduct hearing, Kang said, was discouraging.

“They don’t want to listen to us,” she said. “Anything we say is scrutinized in a way that is not productive for anybody. So, you know, it was a really, really, really disheartening process.”

CJBC is uncertain of its future, according to Kang, but members discussed disbanding completely or separating themselves from the University.

“I think we’re still trying to sort out the options because despite the fact that we have not accomplished what we have wanted to accomplish, with every passing year, more people have joined,” she said.

Featured Image by Vikrum Singh / Heights Editor 

March 23, 2022