On Monday, the Graduate Student Association hosted a town hall event to plan for concrete actions by a variety of graduate advocacy groups.
The town hall was a follow-up to a similar event last month where graduate students identified what issues were the most pressing for the Boston College community.
The Graduate Pride Alliance, the Graduate Students of Color Association, the Boston College Graduate Employees Union, and Eradicate Boston College Racism were all in attendance. Students broke up into focus groups centered on the issues of these organizations and discussed what their goals were and potential strategies for countering administrative restraint and inaction.
Goals included providing real protections for immigrant students, increasing representation of graduates, undergraduates, and faculty on the Board of Trustees, implementing new demonstration policies, creating more gender-neutral bathrooms, establishing living wages for student and adjunct employees, and hiring faculty of marginalized identities.
Most group discussions focused on the development of more effective advocacy that would drive the administration to address student issues, such as providing advocacy training to increase student involvement in protests.
This event came in the immediate wake of an open forum by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. The Commission represents the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, which gives accreditation to Boston College.
The event took place in Gasson Hall from 1:45 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Despite the significance of the event as an opportunity to voice concerns, less than a dozen students attended, most of whom were graduate students. Individual student leaders and organizations had been contacted about the event, but the whole undergraduate population was not informed. Most graduate students were told about the event by the GSA.
The small amount of information distributed, as well as the timing during the middle of the day on the first day back from break, caused one of the students in attendance to speculate that the administration had tried to minimize attendance.
Many of the issues brought up at the CIHE forum were similar to those addressed later at the graduate student town hall. The chief complaints centered around a lack of response to racial issues, the struggles of being a student with minimal financial resources, and a lack of support for student advocacy.
The CIHE representatives consisted of professors and administrators from other universities, who listened intently to the complaints of students. The representatives are at BC reviewing the university's internal self-study of its own practices as well as interviewing and examining the community as a whole to get feedback on potential problems.
The reaccreditation process happens every 10 years. The newest standards for the NEASC are focused more on outcomes and the status of students after graduation than they have been in the past.