Recently, I was made aware of VPSA Barb Jones’s letter to the editor that was published in April 16 issue of The Heights. I appreciated Chris Marchese’s subsequent response regarding freedom of expression on campus, and wanted to build on that by addressing one other piece of Barb Jones’s letter, unrelated to expressive freedom, that I could not ignore.
In Jones’s LTE she explains Boston College’s refusal to divest from fossil fuels, writing, “students have been told that the University is opposed to divestment on the grounds that the BC endowment exists to advance the academic mission of the University and is not a tool to promote social or political change.” This is, quite frankly, pure nonsense. How can the academic mission of the University possibly be separated from promoting social and/or political change? If we are to fully achieve BC’s academic mission, it requires more than simply an understanding of our world. It also requires action—it requires a commitment to using the information we have gained to better the world. A tunnel-vision focus on sheer “academics,” which I am assuming refers to classroom learning, is in direct contrast to the many programs and offices BC supports in its dedication to the formation of the whole person, and not just the formation of the student. The PULSE Program, for example, combines academics with a service learning component, thus encouraging students to pair philosophical and theological texts and discussions in the classroom with real life experiences intended to promote social justice. BC’s refusal to divest on the grounds that the BC endowment is not meant to promote social or political change is completely contradictory to BC’s mantra of encouraging students to be “men and women for others,” and an extremely weak argument against divestment. It is hypocritical for BC to expect its students to search for truth and to work toward social justice if the University itself is unwilling to act as an example for students to follow.
Further, if we allow the continued destruction of our planet by doing nothing to counteract current unsustainable trends, eventually BC will have no students, no campus, and no academic mission to pursue. I have full confidence in BC’s ability to find companies to invest in that do not destroy our Earth. According to the Ethical Investment Guidelines for the endowment: “Boston College is a Jesuit, Catholic institution of higher education. In the management of its investments, Boston College reflects the ethical, social, and moral principles inherent in its mission and heritage. In particular, the University is firmly committed to the promotion of the dignity of the individual, personal freedom, and social justice. The Board of Trustees desires that Boston College investments be handled in accordance with these principles so that gains from investments will not be derived from fraud, abusive power, greed, or injustice.”
What could be more clear?
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor