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Editor’s Note: In Response to Allegations of Misinformation in Oct. 26 Article

If you or anyone you know is in need of support, we encourage you to reach out to University Counseling Services, the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center, the AHANA+ Leadership Council, and the Center for Student Wellness. 

This editor’s note was written by members of  The Heights Editorial Board, a group of 17 editors that meet each week to discuss issues facing the Boston College community and decide the official stance of the paper. Members of the editorial board were not involved in writing the Oct. 26 article discussed below. Please direct any concerns to editor-in-chief Megan Kelly, managing editor Lauren Wittenmyer, or deputy managing editor Emma Healy.

In a time of widespread media misinformation and “fake news,” The Heights believes transparency within our own reporting and editorial process is essential. Therefore, The Heights Editorial Board would like to address recent allegations of misinformation.   

First and foremost, The Heights Editorial Board ardently condemns the alleged racist statements made in a first-year Perspectives class. The frequency of bias-related incidents at Boston College is abhorrent, and BC is overdue for more productive dialogue about racism within its campus community. 

The AHANA+ Leadership Council (ALC) and FACES Council have been important leaders in the effort to bring about this change.

While The Heights does not believe it is the media’s place to report on what is said in a classroom setting, we do have an ethical obligation to report on a student government meeting open to the campus community. 

In response to the Oct. 26 article “Student Assembly Reacts to Alleged Incident in Perspectives Class,” ALC and FACES alleged that The Heights published “false information,” and ALC claimed an ALC member’s statement at the Oct. 25 Student Assembly (SA) meeting was misquoted. The Heights strives to keep the BC community as accurately informed as possible and investigated this allegation of misquoting immediately. 

According to ALC’s statement, the ALC member in question was significantly misquoted in the article. She was not.

Upon close inspection, there was only one error: writing “people of color” when the ALC member said “colored people” while she talked about the white student’s alleged remarks.  

Information she shared at the meeting was attributed to her alone. She did not reach out to The Heights to clarify whether or not she was misquoted, nor did any member of ALC before the group released its statement on Thursday evening.  

The Heights has no intention of singling out members of UGBC, its SA, or any member of the BC community. The ALC member in question made the alleged incident public by bringing it up at a public meeting. The Heights Editorial Board condemns any harassment this representative has experienced as a result of this conversation.

While The Heights acknowledges criticism that we “did no further research on the details of the incident” outside of what was said in the SA meeting prior to publication, the article is an account of the SA representatives’ conversation. It was not an investigation into the alleged incident but an accurate reflection of what UGBC representatives shared during an open meeting. Any factual inaccuracies in the SA members’ quotes or statements were correctly attributed to the people who said them.

If members of the BC community would like to ask about our editorial processes, they can reach out to members of The Heights’  leadership. We ask that any concerned parties refrain from sending complaints to or personally attacking Heights staff or editors. 

A Heights reporter has attended every weekly SA meeting this semester, and the reporter at the Oct. 25 meeting was clearly identified with a paper placard that read “The Heights Representative.” In addition to audio recording the meeting on her computer, the reporter took detailed notes on the conversation. 

The Heights reached out to the ALC member prior to the release of ALC’s statement in an effort to allow her to clarify her comments at the SA meeting. The ALC member did not respond to The Heights. Following the release of the statements on Thursday, we reached out to the ALC member again, as well as FACES, prior to the publication of this editor’s note. Neither party responded with a comment. 

We also reached out to UGBC President Lubens Benjamin, CSOM ’23, prior to the publication of this editor’s note. Benjamin issued a statement to The Heights, which can be read in full here

Attached here is the audio recording of the meeting, and a PDF of the transcript is embedded below. The transcription was produced by 13 different Heights editors and checked over twice. The Heights has decided to omit the name of the Perspectives professor from both the transcript and the audio. The recording and transcript also include a number of inaudible segments that are clearly marked on the transcript. The reporter did not include any statements in her article that could not be heard and understood in full. 

The SA is an important forum for conversations about the issues facing the BC community. In the past, the SA has cultivated essential dialogue during its meetings, with topics ranging from bias-motivated speech on Herrd to the establishment of an LGBTQ+ Living and Learning Community. These discussions are part of the reason why we cover its meeting every week.

The Heights has been editorially and financially independent from the University since 1970. Student editors, writers, and columnists volunteer their time to report on BC and the surrounding community.  

Any BC student is free to attend SA meetings, a right guaranteed by UGBC in its constitution. This is an important way that UGBC maintains its relationship with the student body. 

Calling on the student newspaper to retract a story recounting a conversation between elected representatives at a public meeting contradicts this spirit of transparency. The Heights will not be retracting the article.

Featured Graphic by Annie Corrigan / Heights Editor

October 29, 2022

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