Students Rally For Change On Campus

Friday’s “Rights on the Heights” rally strongly complemented the Undergraduate Government of Boston College’s (UGBC) recent policy work on student rights. The events added weight to UGBC’s ongoing discussion on reforming the Student Guide, standing as evidence of the reforms’ growing undergraduate support.

More than 100 students gathered in O’Neill Plaza Friday afternoon for the rally, which served as a protest of BC’s policies regarding student rights. The event was hosted by Climate Justice at BC and the Social Justice Coalition, and also featured voices from the Black Student Forum, BC United Students Against Sweatshops, the Haitian Association of BC, the Organization of Latin American Affair, the Students for Education Reform, and the College Democrats of BC.

The rally was strategically planned to take place the same day UGBC presented a series of proposed revisions to the University’s Student Guide to the Board of Trustees. Each group represented at the rally stressed the importance of reform and specifed rights they would like to see expanded at BC.

Becoming a Registered Student Organization (RSO) at BC is a lengthy process. Currently, if a student group is not registered with the Office of Student Involvement (OSI), it cannot post fliers, reserve spaces for meetings, or schedule a demonstration under the current Student Guide. These complaints were central to “Rights on the Heights” agenda—Climate Justice at BC being one group with a history of rejection when applying to become an RSO—and are also the main policy aims of UGBC’s proposed revisions.

The University’s spirit of protest has grown significantly over the past two weeks. During Boston’s annual tree-lighting ceremony last Thursday night, over 3,000 demonstrators filled the streets to protest the recent decision not to indict the officer involved in the alleged homicide of Eric Garner, with a strong representation of BC students at the event. The demonstration Thursday night came a week after 1,500 Bostonians blocked the streets to protest a similarly controversial grand jury decision in Ferguson, Mo. Similarly, dozens of BC students—including many members of the Black Student Forum—marched across campus two weeks ago, and gathered in front of Boston College Police Department headquarters to protest the Ferguson ruling.

As seen in these examples, non-violent student protest is becoming an increasingly relevant tool in achieving the social justice aims BC espouses. Lighter restrictions on free speech and expression under the Student Guide are necessary in promoting the University’s Jesuit mission, allowing students to better use the spaces and facilities provided at BC to impact social change.

Featured Image by Arthur Ballin / Heights Staff

About The Heights Editorial Board 319 Articles
The editorial board of The Heights is composed of a group of elected Heights editors. They are responsible for discussing and writing editorials, which represent the opinion of the newspaper.
  • Arafat

    Sources in the mainstream media expressed outrage after a grand jury declined to indict
    a New York City policeman in the death of Eric Garner, but there are 11
    significant facts that many of them have chosen to overlook:

    1. There is no doubt that Garner was resisting an arrest for illegally selling
    untaxed cigarettes. Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik put
    it succinctly: “You cannot resist arrest. If Eric Garner did not resist arrest,
    the outcome of this case would have been very different,” he told Newsmax. “He
    wouldn’t be dead today.

    “Regardless of what the arrest was for, the officers don’t have the ability to say, ‘Well,
    this is a minor arrest, so we’re just going to ignore you.’”

    2. The video of the July 17 incident clearly shows Garner, an African-American,
    swatting away the arms of a white officer seeking to take him into custody,
    telling him: “Don’t touch me!”

    3. Garner, 43, had history of more than 30 arrests dating back to 1980, on charges
    including assault and grand larceny.

    4. At the time of his death, Garner was out on bail after being charged with
    illegally selling cigarettes, driving without a license, marijuana possession
    and false impersonation.

    5. The chokehold that Patrolman Daniel Pantaleo put on Garner was reported to have
    contributed to his death. But Garner, who was 6-foot-3 and weighed 350 pounds,
    suffered from a number of health problems, including heart disease, severe
    asthma, diabetes, obesity, and sleep apnea. Pantaleo’s attorney and police
    union officials argued that Garner’s poor health was the main cause of his
    death.

    6. Garner did not die at the scene of the confrontation. He suffered cardiac
    arrest in the ambulance taking him to the hospital and was pronounced dead
    about an hour later.

    7. Much has been made of the fact that the use of chokeholds by police is prohibited in
    New York City. But officers reportedly still use them. Between 2009 and
    mid-2014, the Civilian Complaint Review Board received 1,128 chokehold
    allegations.

    Patrick Lynch, president of the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said:
    “It was clear that the officer’s intention was to do nothing more than take Mr.
    Garner into custody as instructed, and that he used the takedown technique that
    he learned in the academy when Mr. Garner refused.”

    8. The grand jury began hearing the case on Sept. 29 and did not reach a decision
    until Wednesday, so there is much testimony that was presented that has not
    been made public.

    9. The 23-member grand jury included nine non-white jurors.

    10. In order to find Officer Pantaleo criminally negligent, the grand jury would have
    had to determine that he knew there was a “substantial risk” that Garner would
    have died due to the takedown.

    11. Less than a month after Garner’s death, Ramsey Orta, who shot the much-viewed
    videotape of the encounter, was indicted on weapons charges. Police alleged
    that Orta had slipped a .25-caliber handgun into a teenage accomplice’s
    waistband outside a New York hotel.