In the wake of the recent grand jury decisions not to indict the killers of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, college students, faculty and staff across the country have organized panels, protests and discussions about the verdicts and larger issues of race and social justice. One only needs to turn on the television or engage social media to see that this issue challenges collegiate communities across the country and, indeed, across the globe. Boston College is also grappling with these challenges and is in need of leadership to help students situate the events in Ferguson and Staten Island, and social accountability more generally, in the “service to others” tradition of the University.
African and African Diaspora Studies support BC students’ call for accountability and transparency in the criminal justice system in the nation and freedom of speech on campus.
The African and African Diaspora Studies Program believes that the University should follow the tradition of Fr. Massingale, author of Racial Justice and the Catholic Church, by addressing these issues head on with a public statement about how these issues impact student formation. Both a professor and public servant, Fr. Massingale has spoken passionately about the events in Ferguson and in general about being “haunted by the numerous killings of unarmed black men.” Although we are also “haunted” by the numerous Black women who are also killed with seeming impunity by the criminal justice system, African and African Diaspora Studies shares Fr. Massingale’s belief that this is a social justice issue that demands direction and articulation from colleges and universities as we prepare our students to “go set the world aflame.”
But if students are to “achieve the interior freedom necessary to make good life decisions,” they must be exposed to and explore a diverse range of ideas, have the freedom to voice their concerns unencumbered by bureaucracy, and to have their interests acknowledged by the University. Any attempt to censor what and how our students learn—and restrain the directions from which this learning might come or the direction this learning might take them—diminishes the intent of this mission.
As such, African and African Diaspora Studies support student calls for accountability.
The Core Faculty of African & African Diaspora Studies
Martin Summers, Director and Associate Professor
M. Shawn Copeland, Professor
Rhonda Frederick, Associate Professor
Regine Jean-Charles, Assistant Professor
C. Shawn McGuffey, Associate Professor
Anjali Vats, Assistant Professor
Cynthia Young, Associate Professor
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Photo Staff