Update: The student arrested by BC Police on Saturday night for the racist vandalism in Welch Hall, as well as for assaulting a police officer and for property damage in Walsh Hall, has been identified as Michael Sorkin, CSOM '21. As reported by Boston.com, the Suffolk District Attorney's office announced that Sorkin will face charges of malicious destruction of property as well as assault and battery on a police officer. Sorkin is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday, Dec. 20 at Brighton District Court. His arraignment was originally scheduled for Monday afternoon at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, but has since been pushed back.
The events of Saturday night have prompted responses and statements from several on campus organizations. The UGBC Student Assembly is holding an emergency meeting tonight, Monday Dec. 10, to debate a resolution to codify each of the steps of action they will be taking in response "to hold [them]selves and the administration accountable." There will be a community gathering on Wednesday, Dec. 12, in Robsham Theater hosted by UGBC and Joy Moore, VP of Students Affairs, to create a space where members of the BC community can discuss the impact of this anti-black, racist hate crime. University President Father Leahy has yet to release a statement in response to this racist incident.
According to an email sent to College Road residents on Sunday morning, multiple common spaces in Welch Hall were vandalized with racist, anti-black graffiti on Saturday night. In the email, on-call Residential Life Administrator Brian Regan relayed the following:
“Specifically, common area walls, furniture, and a bathroom in the building were vandalized with racist graffiti. A student was arrested by BC Police and will face charges as a result of the incident. The student has been summarily suspended from the University and will not be allowed to return to campus until the matter has been adjudicated in the courts.”
The email referred to the incident as “bias-motivated,” and continued on to cite sections 4.4.1 Bias-Motivated Offensive Conduct and Hate Crime and 4.4.2 Discriminatory Harassment from the Student Code of Conduct.
As can be seen in photos circulating around campus, walls, window blinds, and tables were covered in slurs written in permanent marker. A window blind in the Welch lounge was defaced with “N*****S ARE THE PLAGUE.” A desk and a white board were graffitied with “F*** N*****S.” Walls and other parts of the common area were also vandalized with blatant racist slurs and attacks. As of this morning, the walls in the basement and first floor hallways of Welch Hall were being painted over, and the vandalized objects had been removed.
The email concluded by stating that “Boston College will not tolerate this type of behavior. This incident should cause you a great deal of concern because it strikes at the very heart of the College Road community. This is not only an irresponsible act, but also a cowardly one that does not reflect your sensitivity and concern for one another. The Office of Residential Life and our staff join you in your efforts to foster a community that is welcoming of and respectful to all.”
Following this email, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs, Joy Moore, sent out an email to the entire BC community informing students of the incident and reiterating the sentiments previously expressed. In this email, however, Moore more explicitly defined the incident as racist, stating “I write to inform you of a racist incident that occurred last night on campus that is deeply offensive to all of us within the Boston College community, especially our community members of color.”
Additionally, Moore remarked that "the student faces charges for assaulting BC Police officers and for destruction of property in a separate incident in another residence hall."
Moore concluded by encouraging affected students to reach out to a number of on-campus resources, including Resident Assistants, University Counseling Services, and staff in Student Affairs. “We are here to assist in any way, and to work with all of you to ensure that we are not defined by this act of hatred, but by the caring, inclusive goodwill that is at the heart of the BC community,” wrote Moore.
This act of racist vandalism comes just over a year since similar racist incidents took place in Roncalli Hall, sparking the Silence is Still Violence campus march. Over the past few months, Black Lives Matter and pro-refugee signs have been repeatedly removed from Communication Department offices in St. Mary’s Hall.
At time of publication, BCPD had not yet responded to requests for comment. This article will be amended with updates as they are received. Any comments, questions, or additional information on the incident can be directed to [email protected].