When EcoPledge Co-President Maureen Kelly took over the Boston College Instagram story at the Earth Day fair on Friday afternoon, no one gave her any restrictions about what content to post, she said.
“I asked very specifically what the guidelines were—what to post and not to post—and I was told that I should make sure not to post on the … actual feed, and to post at least five times and not to tag personal Instagram accounts,” Kelly, MCAS ’23, said. “Those were the only restrictions I was given.”
During her “takeover,” Kelly received access to post BC Instagram stories spreading awareness about environmental clubs on campus. Kelly said she went around to every club tabling at the Earth Day fair and filmed quick videos of the members explaining what their clubs do. But when Kelly posted a video of Climate Justice at BC (CJBC) explaining its mission and advocating for BC to divest from fossil fuels, it was taken down immediately, she said.
“When the president of CJBC came over to me and let me know that BC had deleted the post very quickly after it was first uploaded—they deleted the video first, and the picture was up for a little bit longer I believe—I was surprised,” Kelly said. “I wasn’t even that certain that it was BC admin because there were so many issues with posting and uploading things.”
According to Zanna Ollove, the University’s social media manager, everyone who does a takeover is told the guidelines ahead of time.
“The student organizations agree ahead of time to guidelines laid out by the social media team,” Ollove said in a statement to The Heights.
Ollove said any violation of the guidelines results in a loss of access to the BC Instagram. BC took down CJBC’s posts due to inappropriate images, according to Ollove.
“These guidelines state that non-adherence may result in revoked privileges, particularly for inappropriate posts,” Ollove said. “In this case, EcoPledge posted disparaging images, which is why the content was pulled down and the “takeover” ended.”
Citing her initial belief the post did not appear due to Wi-Fi connectivity issues, Kelly said she went back to the CJBC table to film another video.
“So I told [Stephanie Robinson], ‘Okay, I’ll refilm you guys for sure, I want you to have your post up there,’ so I was letting the phone charge a bit and came back out to record their videos … but that was also taken down,” Kelly said.
Kelly said she received a text from a student member of the BC media team telling her to not talk about divestment or she would have her BC Instagram privileges revoked.
“Right before it was taken down, I got a text and then at the same time a call from who I had coordinated with, the student on the BC media team telling me … to steer clear of the topic of divestment,” Kelly said.
According to Kelly, she made a comment during her phone call with the media team member that she believes speaking publicly about divestment is extremely important, which led to a BC media representative coming to retrieve the phone she was given for the takeover.
“She said, ‘You really need to stop talking about this,’ so I said, ‘Okay, sorry … I didn’t realize it was so touchy, but also I think it’s a very important topic and I’m glad that it was up for a few minutes at least because I think it’s important to highlight and I’m passionate about it,’” Kelly said. “I think my personal statement on the topic kind of pushed things over, so her [coworker] actually ended up coming to pick up the phone from me on the Quad like within 10 minutes.”
Ollove said BC’s social media team is open to working with various student organizations to heighten their exposure, but it will continue to uphold its guidelines.
“The other content EcoPledge provided showcasing the Green Week Vendor Fair was left up,” Ollove said. “The social media team welcomes partnerships with BC student organizations, but will consistently hold them accountable to its agreed-upon guidelines.”
Robinson, vice president of CJBC and MCAS ’23, was in the first video. She was surprised when Kelly approached her to record the story, she said.
“I was approached by the person who was running the Instagram, and she asked if we wanted to be on the BC Instagram, and we responded, direct quote, ‘Does BC want us on its Instagram?’” Robinson said. “Just because in the past they’ve not always liked what we’ve had to say, but she really encouraged us and actually prompted us in a video she said, ‘Has BC divested?’”
Robinson explained that CJBC discussed why it wants BC to divest from fossil fuels in the video.
“So we explained that we want to advocate for divestment because the fossil fuel industry is hurting a lot of communities, especially minority communities, and as students, we wanted BC to stand for something better,” Robinson said. “We were so surprised that anyone was willing to put that on the story.”
According to Robinson, CJBC was not surprised that BC took down the Instagram stories.
“[The posts] were all taken down,” Robinson said. “And this really wasn’t surprising to us at all. Honestly, it wasn’t even upsetting to us, really, because we have been censored so much worse, even this year, in our club that this was nothing.”
While she does not think the University necessarily cares when CJBC discusses divestment on campus, Robinson said BC does not want the club’s work to be seen by those outside of the BC community.
“I think a huge tactic of Boston College is censoring any information that can be seen by donors or by prospective students,” Robinson said. “They don’t listen to student voices. So they’re not too concerned about what we’re saying, they just don’t want bad press that people outside of the community could see.”
BC only appears to care about sustainability for the sake of its public image and ultimately does not take on-campus environmental clubs seriously, according to Kelly.
“There’s a lot, I think, going on with the promotional aspect of Boston College, which obviously includes their media team, about wanting to put this like front-facing facade of such an ethically sustainable campus,” Kelly said. “They really want that image, especially within the Schiller Institute and everything, but they don’t actually care about the environmental clubs.”