Over 60 students and faculty members gathered at St. Mary’s Hall Tuesday night to lead a die-in protest to raise awareness about police brutality and protest the recent deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
The demonstrators laid down on the floor in the hallways. Many were wearing duct tape over their mouths with Eric Garner's last words: “I can’t breathe.”
The event occurred as the Jesuits were attempting to move into their new home in St. Mary’s Hall, and BC officials initially only let a handful of students into the building.
The first group of students entered the building around 3:30 p.m. As more students tried to enter the building, BCPD told them that it was closed. At 4:00 p.m., when a chorale concert in St. Mary's Hall commenced, more students were able to enter the building and participate in the die-in. Students who left and then attempted to reenter the building toward the end of the concert were again denied entrance by BCPD.
Barbara Jones, the Vice President of Student Affairs and one of the administrators present, asked the students to conclude their protest and leave, as it had already delayed the Jesuits' move-in by over an hour.
Ashlie Pruitt, A&S '15, was bothered by Jones' comment that the Jesuits were planning to have dinner with their families, and that the protest was impeding that from happening.
“You know who’s not having dinner with their families?" she said to Jones. "Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, all the people that died. That’s why we’re here.”
Kwani Lunis, A&S '15, added that this was not just a national issue, but a Boston College issue. Jones and the students traded contact information and agreed to continue a dialogue about the issues raised by the die-in.
The demonstration was originally sponsored by the Black Student Forum, who decided to postpone the event yesterday, citing “University policy” on their Facebook page. The die-in was not affiliated with any particular student organization.
"I thought the die-in was a great step towards having the University recognize our frustrations over the lack of awareness from administration on the issues of racial injustice taking place in the country," said Francisco Bernard, A&S '15, who was one of the students prevented from re-entering after leaving to get his backpack. "Not being able to go back inside to continue our peaceful protest really bothered me. It made me upset how much they were trying to suppress our voices through keeping outside in the pouring rain and then lock out any more potential voices."
Many BC students are frustrated with the lack of an official statement from BC on national matters. Emails sent to the student body over the weekend offered numerous outlets for support and guidance within the school, but no statement positioning the University's views has been released, much to the dismay of the demonstrators present on Tuesday night.
"We're not going to stop until we're acknowledged and until there is a statement made by the administrators concerning the events," said Desiree Houston, A&S '15. "They need to realize that they have black students here who care about these issues and their silence speaks volumes."
Other organizers of the die-in also said that BC was not responding adequately to the die-in protest, nor was BC addressing the national issues at hand.
"It's an administration that wants to keep a very pristine image. Students and faculty like to joke about how Boston College cares more about its grass than about its students, and I think in many ways this is a reflection of that," said Bobby Wengronowitz, PhD '16.
"I think the point of this is to make sure the University takes this seriously," said Professor McGuffey, an associate professor of Sociology. "Boston College and the student body here needs to be aware of that this is not just something that happened in Ferguson, this is not just something in Staten Island. It affects everyone, even those here at Boston College."
Nick Olives, James Cody, Anthony Golden and John Paradiso also contributed to this report.