Students gathered around the fountain on Linden Lane earlier today, Nov. 18 at 4 p.m., to protest the limited number of AHANA faculty members at Boston College in an event called the #TakeNoteBC AHANA Faculty Diversity Initiative Demonstration, which was part of a campaign coordinated by the AHANA Leadership Council week calling for diversity in education and an increase in AHANA faculty members.
“As members of the AHANA Leadership Council and the Undergraduate Government of Boston College, we would like to remind Boston College administrators of the well-rounded education they have promised us. We would also like Boston College to commit to increasing the number of AHANA faculty, staff and administrators at our university, as well as make a commitment to improving current policies for recruitment and retention,” the ALC’s AHANA Faculty, Staff and Administration Diversity Campaign - Letter of Support read in part.
The fountain, where students gathered, was significant to the demonstration, according to the organizers. The sculpture in the fountain represents the journey of growth that Jesuit universities encourage students to take, they explained. After a brief explanation of the fountain’s significance, the demonstration moved inside to Gasson 100, which also resonated with the organizers, as it is both at the heart of BC and the oldest building on campus.
The event continued with students sharing their experiences of bias at BC. Students spoke about the struggles of being one of few AHANA students on campus with comments ranging from the discouragement felt from seeing few AHANA professors to the discomfort felt from racially charged comments heard around campus.
“We’re supposed to be the liberated North and with the Jesuit education we’re supposed to be the most prominent education, as we educate the whole person, but clearly that’s not happening here,” said organizer James Kale, LSOE ’16. Kale explained the disconnect he sees between BC’s declared dedication to educating the whole person and the limited range of perspectives available in academics.
One issue that came up several times throughout the event was the lack of cultural range within the core curriculum, as well as how the small number of AHANA faculty members struggle to support a disproportionately large number of AHANA students. For every 20 AHANA students at Boston College, there is one AHANA professor. In contrast, for every eight white students, there is one white professor.
“I know what it’s like to not see yourself reflected in front of the classroom. I know what it’s like to not see your history reflected in the material,” said Professor Shawn McGuffey, one of several faculty members who attended the event.
Also in attendance was Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Tom Mogan. “I met with James Kale, the organizer, and he applied for a permit… I felt it was important that I should be there to help support him,” said Dean Mogan.
“This is a unified front from the entire community, not just students of color… We’re also trying to hold BC accountable for what it’s been saying,” Kale said about what he hoped the BC community would take away from the demonstration.
The ALC’s campaign for more AHANA faculty members will continue this Thursday and Friday at 6 p.m. with focus groups held both nights in Campion 104A. The organizers encouraged BC students to share their own experiences of discrimination on social media using the hashtag #TakeNoteBC.
To view the ALC's publicly issued letter of support for the issue in its entirety, click here.