According to a press release, seven members of Eradicate Boston College Racism are currently facing disciplinary action for their roles in the Stand Against Hate rally and the Sanctuary Campus walkout. These students received notice on Dec. 6 and Dec. 7 from the Office of the Dean of Students that these demonstrations were in violation of the Student Code of Conduct, due to the fact that they were not registered through BC administration.
EBCR has asserted that all of its rallies have been peaceful and that the Sanctuary Campus walkout was part of a nationwide movement organized by Movimiento Cosecha, a nationwide nonviolent political movement supporting immigrant rights. Their actions have been supported by the ACLU of Massachusetts, with Deputy Legal Director Sarah Wunsch referring to these events as “a sad and likely illegal misstep by the college administration.”
On Dec. 9, EBCR made its email response to the administration public on Facebook. The email called for the administration to “rescind all requests for conduct hearings and conversational resolutions with reference to these two demonstrations.” The email also claims that the administration's decision to punish these particular students was arbitrary and that they did not play any more significant role than the other speakers or participants in either event.
EBCR argues that the administration's response threatens freedom of speech and assembly which are protected by the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act. In the released email, EBCR defends that neither rally interfered with students rights according to Section 4.1 of the Code of Student Conduct, and that prior registration for these kinds of events is not required for students that are not a part of college-recognized organizations, which EBCR is not. However, Section 4.6.9 of the Student Code of Conduct, which deals with student demonstrations, does not make such an exception, and specifically states that “applications for permits for all activities in the nature of public speech, rally, demonstration, march, or protest must be submitted a minimum of 48 hours in advance to the Office of the Dean of Students."
According to the Office of the Dean of Students, EBCR has had the opportunity to become a recognized student organization, which would make it easier to register its events through the BC administration, but as a decentralized movement, EBCR has declined to do so. The Office also claims that it does have legal rights involving on-campus events that protect its event registration requirements. These requirements are in place in order to ensure that the University can provide proper safety precautions as well as ensure there are no conflicts between simultaneous events. If the administration were to allow for an unregistered event to continue, it may have to do so for all unregistered events, as discriminating against demonstrations based on the views of the assembling organization could have legal consequences.
Past punishments for protesting students, such as at an anti-racism rally in January 2016 and a fossil fuel divestment protest in Newton, MA in 2015, have resulted in various criticisms of the BC administration. EBCR cites that The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has given it a “Red Light” rating, which means that the University has at least one policy that clearly and substantially restricts free speech. The one policy that has earned that category is in reference to “Use of University Technological and Information Resources," which restricts hateful or inappropriate communications via BC's technological resources. The “Red Light” rating does not apply to any other University policy.
Some members of the BC community have already been showing their support of the accused students. Over 230 students, alumni, and staff have signed a letter of solidarity claiming that they share equal responsibility with the accused.