“Dear trustees, are you listenin’?” Eradicate Boston College Racism is not mincing words with its 12 Days of Boston College Racism campaign, which is bringing awareness to issues of institutional racism on BC’s campus. While race is a hot-button issue on today’s elite college campuses, Eradicate would like to remind students that this is nowhere near a new problem.
The moderators of the group’s Facebook page shared a 1992 article detailing struggles between students of color and BC police officers. Two officers were dismissed from BCPD after they were accused of making racial remarks to students during a fire drill in October of 1992. Today, the group claims that the administration has actually regressed from its position in the nineties, when it stood up for students of color, to the present, when it is accused of covering up a crucial investigation.
Eradicate also claims that BCPD has not released documentation of an incident at last spring’s Modstock, when officers allegedly used unnecessary physical force against Sriya Bhattacharyya, GLSOE ‘18, a female student of color.
While the Board of Trustees enjoyed last week’s biannual luncheon, students congregated outside and sang a rousing chorus of “Walking in a White Man’s Wonderland.” The group has made it clear that institutional racism is not a problem that trustees can ignore, and recent national press coverage of their demonstrations could prove a PR nightmare for the administration.
During finals week, UGBC stood in solidarity with Eradicate, calling for BC to spend more money on improved race relations on campus and less money on groundskeeping. Even if Fr. Leahy is not ready to respond to some well-crafted verses of “Leahy Baby,” Eradicate is galvanizing student, faculty and staff support to end racism on campus, institutional and otherwise.
While some see a student attitude colored by an ostensibly racist and unproductive Letter to the Editor war, Eradicate and others see a student body desperate for change. The group promotes peaceful, meaningful and goal-oriented activism, aimed toward convincing the University to take responsibility for institutional racism, with the hope that BC can “become a national leader for other institutions to follow.”
Kevin Ferreira and Chad Olle, both GLSOE ‘18, offer insight into the group’s more specific goals for the immediate future. Olle identifies Jan. 19, 2016 as a day that is “circled on our calendar.” Eradicate has asked the BC administration to come up with an action plan regarding race relations on campus like those being implemented at Yale, Brown and other top schools by the first day of class next semester. In conjunction with UGBC and the AHANA Leadership Council, the Eradicators hope that a plan from the administration will help to create a “more inclusive campus,” with increased representation for people of color.
Ferreira and Olle point out that there are no people who identify as Black on the BC Board of Trustees, though this is far from the only place where representation is a problem. Eradicate would like to see the AHANA community represented in BC’s higher administration and also increased numbers of AHANA faculty members. The goal is that people in powerful positions will be more aware of race issues and will be able to help the administration address instances of institutional racism. Ferreira adds that the group is also hopeful that BC will allocate funds to support a more racially diverse and inclusive campus.
Though Eradicate Boston College Racism is a relatively new group on campus, the Eradicators already have a history of well-organized activism to be proud of. They have contributed to campus a discussion of what institutional racism is and how it manifests at BC. The group has created an activist community on campus—one with potential to affect positive change in the greater BC community.