Did your professors talk in class about the October shooting in Las Vegas? How about the new developments in the Trump-Russia investigation? Did they bring up Harvey Weinstein, his acts of sexual misconduct, or the brave victims who risked reputation and career to publish his charges? Many professors and administrators tend to shy away from stoking discussion of divisive news in classroom settings. Although we, as students, should not rely on professors, faculty members, and administrators for all information, these facilitators would better serve the mission of the school by promoting a more involved dialogue regarding current events – be it controversial, inconsequential, or anything in between.
Boston College touts an impressive alumni base packed with presidents, provosts, and professional athletes (oh my!). Through initiatives in and out of the classroom, BC aims to cultivate an even larger pool of alumni executive-hood with countless networking events and involved class assignments. But, if BC really wants to make leaders out of its students, there needs to be a greater awareness of current events expanding from social justice opportunities to service trips to assist the victims of this fall’s wave of hurricanes.
While the responsibility to keep students informed does not fall on professors, they should make a point of discussing relevant and contemporary topics. BC prizes the Jesuit characteristic of cura personalis – care and education for the whole person – but neglecting the gaping disconnect of students from the news circuit does not reinforce a holistic approach to education. If the professors, administrators, and other school officials do not engage students with current events, they fall short of this goal, particularly in the case of local news.
In September, a worker from Rosie’s Place – a popular PULSE and 4Boston placement – was assaulted several blocks away from the women’s shelter. CBS Boston reported, “Boston Police urge people to be aware of their surroundings, to walk in groups, and to avoid distractions like talking on the phone and listening to music.” Students who volunteer at Rosie’s Place are required to walk a distance from a T station after transferring from two busses. But did either the PULSE or 4Boston office release a statement about the incident? No. Did all of the professors address the issue head-on? No.
A current PULSE student, who volunteers at Rosie’s Place says, “the walk to Rosie’s Place was already eh but since the attack happened during the day, which is when I go, it was scary.” She continues, “It would have been nice if the PULSE office let us know, honestly.”
Why aren’t our professors engaging us in these timely, necessary, and relevant topics? For fear of taking too big a ladle to the pot? Have they been discouraged from doing so? Are they on the tenure track? Whatever the reason, it is not enough to justify an issue unrecognized. In the case of Rosie’s Place, by not keeping students informed of current events and possible dangers, the safety of BC students was compromised. Though we should not rely on, nor do we want, professors to be our own personal font of news, we deserve a learned assistance in broadening our global awareness. They should be encouraging dialogue that bleeds into breaking news stories.
Students want to talk about relevant issues. We want our economics classes discussing the limits of the newly passed tax code. We need our pre-med students debating the ethics of American healthcare. We should not see theology classes ignoring acts of violence and prejudice committed in the name of a deity. Greater attention among students is going to come from conversation. And while Boston College would be furthering their mission by promoting these conversations in classrooms, students must also take on the task themselves. We can all work to be more informed. In this case, as with most, a little extra effort from everyone involved can go a long way.