Injustice in our criminal justice system has been at the forefront of the previous two articles in this series, but injustice isn’t limited to this one area. Before we discuss broad, new ideas of justice that could potentially replace our current punitive system, we asked some members of The Gavel to reflect briefly on their perceptions of justice, keeping their time at Boston College in mind.
How have your experiences at BC influenced your perception on the presence (or absence) of justice on campus and in the greater world?
I think that, like many things at BC, there are conflicting perspectives on the presence of justice on campus. This is true for my own personal perspective as well. I can say that there are definitely communities and courses I am a part of on campus, such as The Gavel, PULSE with Dr. Antus, the McGillycuddy-Logue Program, etc., that have helped me shape my understanding of justice and how to recognize injustices around me and in the world. Without these experiences at BC, I likely wouldn’t have the tools to understand what true justice looks like. However, it’s thanks to these experiences that I understand the many injustices that POC, specifically Black people, face at BC and around the world. As much as I love the community at BC, I am well aware that my own experiences are not the same for other students of color, especially Black students at BC. It’s also disheartening to watch as Boston College continues to blatantly disregard the core values of Jesuit teaching that have shaped so many of my experiences and learnings about true justice, and continue to ignore the pain of Black members of our community.
My time so far at BC has opened my eyes to what "systemic" injustice really means. There have been times when I've been frustrated with the administration's reaction or handling of certain situations (for example: hate crimes on campus), but there have also been times when I've been proud to see students in spaces of activism actually fighting for change. There are many students and organizations on campus who are putting in the work to make our campus and the world a better place, but it is disheartening to not always see those same issues prioritized by those in positions of power on campus. I have learned that fighting for justice is absolutely something done with solidarity, and that it can bring people together. I started feeling most at home at BC once I became involved in groups like The Gavel and FACES. The people in these organizations have shown me what it means to strive for justice, and it is inspiring to know I share the same spaces as such hopeful and driven people.
BC has given me a deeper understanding of how pervasive the status quo can be, especially if one is insulated from the struggles that many others face on a daily basis. It made me realize just how different people's experiences can be, and how much that can change their worldview. It made me realize the need for dialogues and empathy. It has disappointed me at times but it has also made me hopeful for the possibility of a generation coming together despite different upbringings.
When applying to schools, one of the biggest draws to BC for me was its commitment to Jesuit values, having come from a Jesuit high school which also sought to incorporate the idea of cura personalis into its educational environment. However, having been here for three years now, this commitment to cura personalis can often seem surface level at best, and is especially lacking for BC’s Black student community. When it comes to instances of racism affecting Black students on campus, BC administrators will too often respond with silence. The incident that particularly struck a chord with me was rather recent, when the BC Instagram page untagged themselves from posts from the Black at Boston College account. This blatant attempt to protect BC’s image by not simply ignoring, but actively suppressing Black student voices rather than addressing their concerns in the first place made clear to me where BC’s priorities lie when it comes to questions of racial justice on campus.