2023 Year in Review

2023 was a historic year for Boston College. From a record-breaking ALC Showdown, to the suspension of the swim and dive program, to a finals-week fire in Yawkey Center, The Heights walks you through the biggest stories of the past year.

As always, thank you for reading.

Pipes Burst Across Campus Due to Arctic Blast

In February, water pipes burst across campus during an arctic blast, causing water damage from Carney Dining Hall to the Mods. 

A ceiling pipe on the fourth floor of Loyola Hall caused water damage to several students’ rooms and personal belongings, temporarily displacing multiple residents.

BC Omits Consideration of Legacy Admissions From Common Data Set

BC was the only university in the Greater Boston area to omit its consideration of students’ alumni relations—granted to students with family who have attended or currently are attending the University—in its 2021–2022 Common Data Set.

Director of Undergraduate Admission Grant Gosselin said BC did not report whether or not it considers “alumni/ae relation” due to the inherent ambiguity of the term. Gosselin also clarified that the consideration of “alumni/ae relations” does not extend to applicants who are siblings, cousins, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews of BC alumni. 

Kotzen, Heckelman Win UGBC Pres., VP Election Due to Election-Deciding Sanction

Jonah Kotzen and Meghan Heckelman won the UGBC president and vice president election in April, with 50.2 percent of the votes.

Kotzen and Heckelman defeated Jordan Nakash and Yosan Tewelde by a final margin of 11 votes. Nakash and Tewelde initially won the election by 14 votes, before the Elections Committee deducted 25 of their total 1,518 votes for violating endorsement policy.

Nakash and Tewelde appealed the sanction and were initially told that the deduction would be reduced from 25 votes to 10—which would have won them the election—but were later told the sanction could not be reduced.

Kotzen and Heckelman’s policy platform promised to address the everyday needs of BC students through four pillars: acceptance, academics, activity, and adjustment.

LGBTQ+ Resources Integrated Into BAIC

In April, BC announced it would officially integrate LGBTQ+ programming and support into the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center (BAIC). 

Students at BC advocated for an LGBTQ+ resource center and increased support from the University for several decades. 

The announcement came after an initial launch to include LGBTQ+ resources in the BAIC’s programming in April of 2022 was postponed a month later as a result of feedback from students, alumni, and members of color on Boston College’s Board of Trustees. 

The University announced in October that Ira Kirschner would take on a new associate director position at the BAIC, leading programming, resources, and support for LGBTQ+ students and allies on campus.

BC High Renames McElroy, BC Not to Follow

Boston College High School announced in September that it plans to rename McElroy Hall, the school’s first building, citing Rev. John McElroy’s, S.J., historical ties to slavery.

BC has no plans to rename McElroy Commons—also dedicated to John McElroy— in light of BC High’s decision, according to Associate Vice President for University Communications Jack Dunn, because of his “indispensable contributions” to BC.

BC is funding research to examine McElroy’s life through a biography currently being written by Seth Meehan, associate director for academic programs and special projects at the BC libraries.

According to Meehan, McElroy’s ties to slavery primarily trace back to his time as a bookkeeper at Georgetown College.

ResLife Workers Push to Unionize

In an email sent on Sept. 10, BC Reslife Workers called for the establishment of a ResLife student workers union for resident assistants, graduate student assistants, graduate resident directors, and summer operations staff.

The main goal of unionizing ResLife student workers is to put ResLife employees on a more equal playing field with their employers, BC ResLife Student Workers said in an email to The Heights.

Student residential workers at Boston University, Tufts University, and Harvard University all successfully unionized this year. BC ResLife Student Workers have yet to successfully establish a union.

BC Purchases Mount Alvernia High School Property

BC purchased Mount Alvernia High School’s closed-down campus for $40.5 million in October.

BC plans to use the Mount Alvernia campus—tentatively being referred to as Newton East—as an extension of the current Newton Campus, according to Dunn.

BC bought the property from the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, who announced in March of this year that Mount Alvernia would be closing. 

Dunn said the property is comprised of four components—the main building, with classrooms, administrative spaces, and a gym; a garage; a provincial house; and a chapel.

Former Professor Sues BC for Discrimination

Hristina Nikolova, a former BC assistant professor of marketing, is suing BC, alleging she faced gender discrimination in her tenure application process that occurred while she took maternity leave.

Nikolova filed the suit against BC’s trustees on Oct. 26, calling on the University to pay more than $1.7 million in damages. 

According to the lawsuit, Nikolova identified comments by University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., and Carroll School of Management dean Andrew Boynton that “reflected gender-stereotyped notions of a new mother’s role with respect to work and family.”

BC Community Responds to Israel-Hamas War

On October 12, BC Hillel hosted a candlelight vigil commemorating the victims of Hamas’ attacks in Israel. The following week, the BC Muslim Student Association held a “Prayer for Palestine” event to reflect on the increasing number of deaths in Gaza.

In an email to the BC Community, Leahy expressed his shock and disturbance by Hamas’ attacks in Israel while empathizing with the social, economic, and political troubles faced by residents of Gaza due to “actions by Israel.” 

A plane pulling a “Harvard Hates Jews” banner with a Palestinian flag on it flew above BC’s campus two afternoons in a row, on Dec. 7 and 8. The plane also flew over the campuses of Harvard University, Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Northeastern University.

This occurred two days after Harvard president Claudine Gay testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to address anti-Semitism on college campuses.

Fire Breaks Out in HVAC System of Yawkey

Just four hours after BC launched fireworks from Maloney Lawn to kick off senior week, a fire broke out in the nearby Yawkey Athletics Center on the night of Dec. 15.

According to Boston Fire Department District Chief Mark Miller, the fire occurred in the HVAC system of Yawkey. 

Firefighters ascended extension ladders to reach Yawkey’s roof and climb through windows on the building’s top floor as crowds of students gathered below to watch.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

BC Suspends Swim and Dive Team

On Sept. 20, Boston College indefinitely suspended its men’s and women’s swim and dive program after University administrators determined hazing occurred within the program, according to a statement from BC Athletics.

A letter from an administrator—sent to a member of the team and obtained by The Heights—initially alleged that attendees at a swim and dive freshman event were instructed to binge drink and forced to consume their own vomit.

The following month, 37 members of the swim and dive team filed a lawsuit against the University, alleging the imposed suspension was unjustified. After a Middlesex County judge denied their request for an emergency injunction to reinstate the team, the members of the team dropped the lawsuit. BC has not yet made public the findings of their investigation.

BC Lacrosse Wins First ACC Championship

Despite having made the NCAA Tournament in five straight seasons, BC lacrosse had never been able to overcome the hurdle of hoisting the ACC Championship trophy. 

But the Eagles finally overcame this hurdle in the 2023 season when they downed one of their biggest foes, North Carolina. Entering the contest, the Eagles boasted a measly 6–22 record against the juggernaut, but head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein’s team rose to the occasion and took down the Tar Heels 11–9 via a comeback effort. 

The Tar Heels had taken down BC in four of the last five ACC Tournament Championship games, but the Eagles snapped the streak on April 30, as they came back from a three-goal third-quarter deficit.

BC also held the Tar Heels scoreless in the final quarter of play to hoist the ACC Championship trophy for the first time in program history.

Former Men’s Basketball Players Worry the Program Forgot About Them

Despite belonging to one of BC men’s basketball’s most successful eras, a number of former players told The Heights they believe the program has forgotten about them

Nine former players from the 2000s—ranging from program greats to walk-ons—told The Heights that the University has failed to celebrate former players’ accomplishments, rarely used players’ connections to help the current program, and even ghosted them when they offered mentorship to the team. 

Many players, however, still expressed interest in reconnecting with the BC program and praised the staff of current head coach Earl Grant for their progress in working toward a more active alumni network.

BC Men’s Basketball Upsets No. 6 Virginia

Heading into its matchup against No. 6 Virginia on Feb. 22, BC men’s basketball had not defeated three ranked opponents in the same season since the 2008–09 season. But the Eagles snapped that streak in the 2022–23 season when they toppled Virginia by a margin of 15 points, 63–48.

As the final seconds of the clock neared zero, BC fans in a sold-out Conte Forum braced themselves for a court storming that Jaeden Zackery described as a dream come true. BC held Virginia to just 32.2 percent shooting from the field—a season low for the Cavaliers—and 19 percent from deep.

Baseball Reaches New Heights

2023 was the year of breaking program records for BC baseball. In head coach Mike Gambino’s final year on the Heights, the Eagles finished with a 37–20 overall record, including a Beanpot win and a 16–14 conference record—both program highs. 

The team’s season culminated in its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2016, multiple players named to All-ACC teams, wins over perennial championship contenders, and a program-high No. 9 national ranking.

While the Eagles were eliminated via an 8–0 shutout in the first round of the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional at the hands of No. 16 Alabama, BC’s 2023 season was arguably its best in program history.  

BC Football’s Unorthodox Path to a Bowl Game 

After a 3–9 season for BC football in 2022, the Eagles seemed to be on track for a similar story in 2023 when they kicked off the new season with an overtime loss to Northern Illinois

BC followed up that performance with a narrow win over FCS Holy Cross, a heartbreaking loss to No. 3 Florida State, and a blowout loss to Louisville. But BC quickly flipped the script behind the dynamic play of UCF transfer quarterback Thomas Castellanos and rattled off five straight wins, improving to 6–3 and prompting belief that a path to the ACC Championship remained alive. 

The Eagles returned to Earth, however, in their final three games, and finished the regular season at .500. But BC completed its season on a high note, taking home the 2023 Fenway Bowl with a win over No. 17 SMU on Dec. 28.

BC Men’s Hockey Transition from Spring to Fall 

The 2022–23 BC men’s hockey season was not what most Eagles fans were used to seeing. Prior to the season, BC underwent its first head coaching change in 28 years, as Jerry York was no longer at the helm of the program

Instead, Greg Brown spent the year navigating Hockey East, working with a team of mostly seasoned veterans. In the offseason, Brown landed arguably one of the best recruiting classes in BC history and began to forge his own path with almost an entirely new roster. 

Behind the play of four first-round NHL draft picks, the Eagles opened their season with an overtime win over Quinnipiac and currently boast a 13–1–1 record to enter the new year holding the No. 1 ranking in the nation.

Fresh Start for BC Women’s Soccer

After five seasons, BC Athletics chose to move on from women’s soccer head coach Jason Lowe. Lowe’s teams recorded an overall record of 30–45–15 and a conference record of 4–37–7. The Eagles did not win more than one conference game in any season throughout his tenure. 

In December, Athletics Director Blake James announced that former Gonzaga head coach Chris Watkins would be taking over as the newest BC head coach. The 2023 West Coast Conference Coach of the Year ended his Bulldogs tenure with a historic season and an overall record of 79–33–16.

Newton Residents Split Vote on Override Ballot

Newton residents voted yes to two of three ballot questions regarding a tax override on March 14, temporarily increasing their taxes by a total of $5.8 million to fund the reconstruction of Countryside Elementary School and Franklin Elementary School. 

The one failed ballot question, the operational override question, would have permanently raised Newton’s taxes by $9.175 million a year to cover general operating and capital expenses for the city. 

Leading up to the vote, Mayor Ruthanne Fuller advocated for the passage of all three ballot questions, emphasizing its importance in her State of the City address and in her newsletter. She pointed to the city’s need for additional funding, especially in Newton Public Schools (NPS). 

Meanwhile, residents for and against the override vote advocated for their positions online and in person. In February, pro-override groups held 21 community standouts outside of public schools in support of all three ballot measures.

Newton Bans Single-Use Plastic

Newton City Council passed an amendment that will ban certain single-use plastic items and mandate reusable food serviceware, effective March 2024. City councilors said the amendment will reduce harmful waste and pollution in the city.

Local businesses pushed for items like plastic water bottles and glitter to be excluded from the ban, warning that such restrictions would push customers to buy these products online or in other municipalities, drawing business away from Newton establishments. The City Council ultimately removed plastic water bottles, glitter, and certain other items from consideration for the ordinance.

Teachers’ Union Contract Negotiations Reach Deadlock 

The Newton Teachers Association (NTA) and the Newton School Committee (NSC) have been in negotiations since December 2022, but still have yet to settle on a new union contract. The previous contract expired on Aug. 31. 

In the fall, NTA members voiced frustration and concern with the lack of progress at demonstrations and during NSC meetings. The NTA demanded higher wages, higher yearly cost-of-living adjustments, and more supporting staff. 

NTA members said they felt antagonized and disrespected by the city during negotiations. The NSC pointed to the lack of funding as an obstacle to the demands—following the failure of the operational override ballot question, Newton Public Schools will operate on a budget deficit of $4.9 million for the 2024 fiscal year. 

Save Newton Villages–Backed Candidates Dominate Newton Municipal Elections 

Many of the winning candidates in Newton’s municipal elections this past November were endorsed by Save Newton Villages—an organization that opposed Newton’s upzoning efforts, a central issue throughout the election cycle.

More than 16,000 residents cast their votes, several of which named housing, economic development, climate justice, and zoning as the issues most important to them when speaking with The Heights at the polls. 

Six of the 24 elected city councilors were newcomers. David Micley, Randy Block, Martha Bixby, and Stephen Farrell took ward council seats, while Rena Getz and Alan Lobovits took at-large seats. Bixby was the only new councilor not endorsed by Save Newton Villages.

Newton City Council Passes Final Zoning Plan

Newton City Council passed the Village Center Overlay District (VCOD) in December—the first update to Newton’s zoning laws in commercial zones since 1987. The ordinance passed three weeks before the Dec. 31 deadline to comply with a 2021 state law mandating Newton zones for at least 8,330 units of multi-family housing in areas near public transit. 

Throughout the plan’s development, Newton residents were divided on what the final VCOD should look like. Residents spoke at open forums and advocated for their stances with lawn signs and petitions, making the issue a prominent topic of the November municipal elections and leading to the creation of several VCOD-related advocacy organizations.

The VCOD was approved for full City Council deliberation in October, following nearly three years of planning. The City Council ultimately downsized the final plan through a series of amendments, removing six villages from the VCOD and tightening zoning permissions in certain areas.

Record-Breaking Crowd at ALC Showdown

The annual ALC Showdown, hosted by the AHANA+ Leadership Council, gathered a record-breaking crowd in Conte Forum this April. 17 of BC’s dance teams competed for first place and the chance to win a donation to a charity of their choice. 

Masti, BC’s only Bollywood fusion dance group, won first place and chose to donate its winnings to South Asian Americans Leading Together, which strives to achieve racial justice for South Asian people in the United States.

UPrising Dance Crew won second place, Fuego del Corazón won third place, and Females Incorporating Sisterhood Through Step (F.I.S.T.S.) won the crowd choice award. 

Flo Rida Excites the Heights

On the rainy morning of the 127th Boston Marathon, Flo Rida gave an electric performance in the Mod Lot as the Marathon Monday headliner

Students gathered around as early as 8:30 a.m., enjoying the music that blasted through speakers from Boston-based DJ Frank White, who prepared the crowd for Flo Rida’s set.

The rapper performed his greatest hits of the late 2000s and early 2010s while interacting and engaging with the excited crowd.

“What happens at Boston College stays at Boston College,” he said.

Aminé Performs Hits at Modstock

On the last day of classes, rapper Aminé performed for the annual Modstock concert, held by the Campus Activities Board (CAB).

At around 5 p.m., the student band Jamsexual, winner of BC’s Best, opened the afternoon’s festivities. Next, pop artist CVBZ continued to build an enthusiastic atmosphere as the crowd anticipated Aminé’s arrival.

After nearly half an hour of waiting, Aminé took to the stage, met by a loud and lively audience. The crowd celebrated the last day of classes with Aminé’s top hits like “Mad Funny Freestyle,” “4EVA,” and “Spice Girl.” 

COIN Electrifies the Crowd at Stokes Set

Beneath the downpouring rain and bright stage lights on Stokes Lawn, pop rock band COIN made a stop in Chestnut Hill, Mass. during its Uncanny Valley tour to headline Stokes Set 2023, hosted by CAB. Students—most wearing sweatpants or pajamas—piled into the muddy venue to see COIN take the stage.

Throughout the performance, lead singer Chase Lawrence and COIN created a sense of community between the band and the students in the audience.

Pops on the Heights Raises Record-Breaking $15 Million

The 31st annual Pops on the Heights, also known as the Barbara and Jim Cleary Scholarship Gala, raised over $15 million in scholarship funds for BC students—a record-breaking figure.

Conte Forum transformed into an extravagant venue for musical performances that gathered BC students, alumni, and parents. Grammy-winning country music group Little Big Town headlined the event, supplemented by performances from the Boston Pops Orchestra, BC students, and other musical groups.

Students Discuss Sex Culture and Policy at BC

Policy 11.8 of the BC Student Code of Conduct prohibits students from engaging in intercourse outside of marriage. The Heights spoke with students and faculty to assess the purpose of this policy, as well as its impact on student life, culture, and sexual health on campus. 

While University faculty said the policy reflects BC’s Jesuit identity, some students said the rule is not enforced and fosters a culture of stigma around sex. 

10 Years Later, BC Reflects on the Boston Marathon Bombing

On the 10th anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, BC alumni and faculty— including those running the marathon, those providing medical care, students sheltered in place on BC’s campus, and those watching the marathon downtown—reflected on the incident

They recount their experiences during the bombing, BC’s initial lockdown, and the responses afterward, such as fundraising efforts and events memorializing the lives lost. 

Celebrating Black History Month

To celebrate Black History Month at BC, The Heights spoke with Black BC alumni, professors, and student groups. 

Doxie McCoy, BC ’77 and likely BC’s first Black female athlete, reflected on her experience at BC as a Black student, hockey player, and founder of BC’s first minority newspaper, Collage, as well as her post-grad work in media and government communications. 

Rhonda Frederick, BC professor of English and African & African Diaspora Studies, outlined her process of creating the Black BC Walking Tour, reviving the Blacks in Boston Conference, and writing her book, Evidence of Things Not Seen: Fantastical Blackness in Genre Fiction. 

Boston College Graduate School of Social Work’s Black Leadership Initiative spoke about their Afrocentric approach to social work and how the practice can be applied to Black communities. 

Class of 2023 Enters an Uncertain Job Market

After experiencing four years of a pandemic, a resulting economic fallout, inflation highs, and record mental health lows among young adults, the class of 2023 prepared to enter the workforce during uncertain times.

The Heights spoke with BC students and the Career Center to evaluate what resources students used to find jobs and how they navigated job anxiety.

The End of Race-Conscious Admissions

Last June, the Supreme Court banned the consideration of race in college admissions. In the wake of this decision, BC and 56 other Catholic universities filed an amicus brief to express support for race-based admissions. 

The Heights spoke with BC students to analyze the community’s response to the rulings and obtained statements from Leahy and UGBC, both of which condemned the Supreme Court’s decision and emphasized a commitment to diversity. 

The Heights also spoke to BC professors with expert insight on the case, who agreed that the ruling had strong potential to reduce diversity on BC’s campus. 

Sustainability, Climate Change, and Divestment at BC

While BC has many student groups and University-led initiatives that promote sustainability, the issue of divestment remains a prominent debate.

The Heights spoke with several of BC’s sustainability groups about how they address environmental concerns on campus and heard arguments from students and faculty who continue to urge BC to divest capital from oil, coal, and gas companies.

The Heights photo editors took a look back through the archives for the most significant moments they captured on camera this year. Here are some of their favorites.