On Monday, November 10, the Social Justice Coalition at Boston College gathered individuals representing social justice clubs on campus and those that simply have an interest in student issues to discuss what they view as persistent injustices committed by the Boston College administration.
The stated purpose of this forum was to come together and foster a dialogue that would "engage the administration in a constructive effort to increase the say of the students in our own student life community," according to Alyssa Florack.
There was representation from recognized and non-recognized student organizations such as Climate Justice at BC, UGBC, Global Zero and the Graduate Student Association, as well as an alumnus and students that are unaffiliated with social justice clubs but are interested in the enhancement of student engagement and social justice issues both on campus and globally.
Several students from Climate Justice at Boston College came ready to discuss their feeling of injustice and their inability to speak openly and freely about the issues that are important to them, namely climate change.
Climate Justice at Boston College is not a recognized student organization, which impacts the group in a number of ways, ranging from the inability to rent equipment and book rooms to the lack of funding from BC. Clubs that are not registered are also not allowed to post flyers for events, making it nearly impossible for students to express their core message.
During the meeting, the students mentioned that there are clubs that are not considered to be “controversial” that have also run into conflicts with administration over seemingly simple tasks, such as organizing a hike. Students believe that this highlights the “disconnect” that they feel is prevalent between the administration and the students.
A representative from UGBC’s GLBTQ Leadership Council (GLC), which is a registered student organization, discussed how their organization must comply with the Jesuit order.
For example, if they want to schedule a speaker to discuss same-sex marriage, they are only permitted to schedule a speaker that is opposed to same sex marriage; GLC cannot gain approval to bring a speaker that supports same sex marriage.
A number of students mentioned that they have attempted to reach out to professors for support in their organizations, but are only able to gain support from those that have tenure and feel secure in their jobs. There was a consensus among the group that this feeling of intimidation brought about by the administration inhibits professors’ abilities to speak freely because the fear that if they anger the wrong person, they will lose their jobs.
The meeting tried to focus attention on what could be done in order to correct the problems they see at the administration level at BC.
BC has presented UGBC with an opportunity to play a part in revising the student guide. A student representative of UGBC noted that the student government is waiting to submit their proposal until they feel that all the voices that want to contribute are heard.
Nate Osborne, a member of the Social Justice Coalition and organizer of this event, noted that in order to effectively change the way that BC administration views certain clubs there “needs to be a mobilization and visualization of this desire.” He intends to have students gather and make their voices heard.
The students found their struggle for free speech to be surprising as they noted that BC did not always inhibit progressive organization as they feel it does today. Climate Justice at Boston College, which aims to divest Boston College from fossil fuels, noted that BC was one of the numerous United States universities that divested from Apartheid in the 1980s. Students concluded that the most effective way to show BC the path forward is to show the university what it once was.