Boston College’s response to the recent acts of racism against women of color on the MLE floor in Xavier Hall has left members of the BC community disappointed and angry with the administration. To prevent incidents of racial harassment in the future, Boston College needs to do better. Below, members of the Gavel team discuss how they believe our school officials can play a more active role in fostering an inclusive environment.
How do you think BC should create a more inclusive environment?
Lauren Blaser, Co-Authentic Eagles Writer
I believe that the value of safe spaces cannot be overstated, especially at a time like this, when so many of us feel confined to our living spaces. Safe spaces are especially necessary for BIPOC and members of the LGBTQ+ community. The world that we live in is far from perfect, and while we work through its overwhelmingly disappointing flaws (starting with our very own campus community), the least we can do is make sure that every student has a physical escape that allows them to air their emotions and freely express themselves. I also believe that inclusivity comes from transparency and discussion… This needs to happen in the classroom, in personal conversation, and in campus-wide exchanges (particularly between the administration and the student body). Only good can come from addressing, publicly and often, the need for further inclusivity at BC.
Joe Birdsall, Associate Sports Editor
I think that the first step to creating a more inclusive campus is administrative higher-ups being willing to have an honest and open dialogue with students rather than making communication a one-way street. Far too often in my time at BC, heinous discriminatory acts against students of color have been met with silence or a whitewashed statement, and students are clearly frustrated with a lack of accountability from school leadership. Even during building meetings regarding the recent COVID outbreak, student questions about both the pandemic and the incidents in Xavier Hall were ignored. For students to feel included, they first need to feel heard by their fellow students and the larger community, and it falls on the administration to facilitate that conversation.
Molly Wilde, Features Associate Editor
The frequent patterns of racial harassment at Boston College over the past few decades have demonstrated that a culture of white supremacy is deeply rooted in our campus environment. As a predominantly white institution, Boston College must develop an explicitly anti-racist approach to education and administration to foster a community where students of color feel respected and valued. This includes recognizing acts of racism as part of a greater community issue rather than dismissing them as isolated incidents, as well as regularly engaging with representatives from cultural groups and social justice organizations in conversations about diversity and inclusion on campus. While the instatement of the cultural diversity core requirement and the DiversityEdu module have been small steps in the right direction, racial bias training programs for faculty and expanded course offerings that address racial injustice are needed to create an environment that validates the perspectives and experiences of diverse students.
Jasmine Zhang, Staff Writer
In order for our campus to be more inclusive, our administration needs to actually formulate solutions instead of superficially appeasing the public. The fact that students feel unsafe at Boston College even though the space is supposed to act as their home away from home is disappointing. Racist acts against our AHANA+ students have been repetitive which simply proves how our BC admins need to do more and be better.
Flora Peng, Features Editorial Assistant
The fact that "bias-motivated incidents" happen every year is evidence that BC's efforts to hold its students accountable and provide a welcoming space are not working. In addition, a statement from Lochhead's Feb. 13 email is an example of a major problem with BC's attitude toward inclusivity: "Students told us they had experienced other bias-motivated incidents on campus this academic year that were not reported to administrators who would have been in a position to respond in a timely manner and provide support."
He justifies BC's failure to protect its students of color by suggesting that students should have known better than to wait to bring problems to their attention. Not only does the administration need to treat its BIPOC/LGBTQIA+/etc. students with more empathy—considering why students might hesitate to reach out in the first place and prioritizing understanding those reasons over the university's own defense—but also recognize that support has no expiration date. BC needs to be more receptive to student voices, stricter with its student conduct policies, and ultimately open to admitting its weaknesses even exist.
Jackie Geller, Features Staff Writer
I believe that inclusion on campus is connected to exceptional communication from administrators and faculty through programs and discussions. If done successfully, they can greatly impact the responsibility and accountability of BC students throughout their years on the Heights. Additionally, I cannot stress enough the importance of a student center. The BC community is extremely social, and I think it would benefit by having a new spot on campus that facilitates more diverse and thought-provoking conversations.
Professor Gilda Morelli, Counseling, Developmental & Educational Psychology Department
The ways we, as a community, have worked to ensure that minoritized students are able to access all opportunities to learn as easily and without worry as non-minoritized students are not sufficient. We have to focus and build on the strengths of minoritized students in and outside of the classroom and shed the deficit perspective that pervades our practices. We have to make visible such strengths in the everyday social and physical contexts in which we, at Boston College, live. We have to institute a unified, educational experience for all incoming students on isms-based bias and discrimination, a suggestion made by one of my students. We have to be proactive in these ways, and others, to prevent the hurt and harm our minoritized students experience moment-to-moment and day-to-day.