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