Climate Justice at Boston College (CJBC) announced on Thursday that the administration of Boston College has “officially responded to [their] letter and demands,” referencing a list of proposals and requests the climate advocacy group submitted to university officials.
This marks a significant change in the administration's relations with student advocacy groups, as they have often been reticent to engage in direct dialogue. While this development is a sign of progress on the part of the administration, "they did not release a public statement or commit to specific action."
Nonetheless, given the historical stance of the administration, this “effort to engage in actual dialogue” is a reassuring sign to those who wish for strong environmental action from the administration.
Notably, “major players including Fr. Leahy and trustees are still not a part of this conversation,” but CJBC emphasized that this development “is still significant in that senior administrators at BC have recognized the urgency of the climate crisis,” for the first time, “as well as the voices of students that have long been ignored.”
Despite these shortcomings, CJBC reiterated that they “appreciate the sincere effort made,” and are optimistic that it will be the start of fruitful dialogue that will affect tangible change on campus. Although no specific policy commitments were made, CJBC hopes that this will eventually lead to “a commitment to divestment from fossil fuels,” the flagship campaign that CJBC has long advocated for, and which (until now) had fallen on deaf ears in the administration.
However, while CJBC is optimistic that the administration will engage in good faith, they are prepared to “continue taking direct action by all means possible” if reforms are not implemented.
Additionally, among the demands made by CJBC was a disavowal of the grant offered to the Political Science Department by the Koch Foundation, as well as an end to litigation seeking to reclaim property owned by BC at Webster Woods, upon which the city of Newton exercised eminent domain, seeking to protect vulnerable wildlife.
The statement noted that the “International Studies and Political Science departments have officially dropped backing for the Koch-funded proposal,” but acknowledged that “individual professors have indicated that they may still move forward with it.”
CJBC expressed gratitude to the support of other students in voicing their opposition to the proposal, crediting it as “a direct result of student activism,” from those who signed petitions to those who participated in protests.
In regards to the legal dispute over Webster Woods, CJBC noted “positive engagement” on behalf of the administration, but they maintained their calls for BC to end their litigation, referencing it as a waste of funds for both the university and the city, as well as a “threat to our relationship with Newton and key community members.”
CJBC concluded their statement by stating that their work is not to obstruct the university and its mission, but rather to “help us better live out our Jesuit, Catholic values,” and reaffirmed their commitment to not only collaborate with the administration, but also their willingness to “take any and all action necessary to bring about climate justice” if the administration does not follow through.