Boston College wasn’t my home up until about a month ago—before that, I was a Terrier. That’s right. I’ll pause to let the gasps and profanity take their course. I should explain that I was an Eagle long before I was a Terrier, and that my time as an Eagle began on the cool fall day in 2001 when my older brother took his BC High entrance exam. From that moment forward, I knew where I was headed.
I knew BU was a big school, but I never could have guessed just how lackluster the whole experience would be. Personally, I didn’t mind the lack of a central campus and actually found it to be quite beautiful. Living in Warren Towers, I woke up every morning to a view of the Charles, the Citgo sign, the Pru, and Fenway. It was the premier Boston experience, or at least it should have been.
What I found is that next to no one from BU is proud of Boston or the school. Many would be just as happy if the campus were picked up in its entirety and plopped down next to a trendier city. For some reason, the school is rarely regarded as someone’s first choice. In some cases, they came to BU because the individual programs they sought were better in some regard. But more often students seem to have had their hearts set on other schools, and because they were denied the aid or the acceptance needed to attend, BU was the default. This flaw creates a culture of indifference and a lack of loyalty. It’s what makes BC’s hockey chant, “BU was my safety school,” so effective: the truth.
I’m not sure when this transition happened, when the flood of NYU-rejects and hipsters infected the culture there. Maybe it was in the ’90s when BU dismantled their football program, or maybe long before that. All I know is that something changed within that school and it seems barely able to remember its legacy of tough commuter students and Beanpot sweeps made possible by teams of local kids who grew up playing ice hockey on the Frog Pond.
The rivalry between BC and BU is akin to that of Boston and New York. BU students should feel pride in the metropolitan nature of their school and the fact that they navigate traffic and crowded city streets. We should feel proud of our beautiful, sprawling campus, a true city on a hill. BU students should not feel badly about the fact that they have to pass 35 pizza parlors and hair salons between their dorm and class buildings and we should not feel badly about the accusations of Chestnut Hill not being Boston. Instead of this balance, instead of Boston and New York, the rivalry has become something more like Boston and Anytown, U.S.A.
I’m not sure how to extricate the cancer of indifference. Perhaps part of the problem is how international the school has become. BC’s value is virtually unparalleled in New England, but BU rules the roost internationally. It draws in many students who seek a degree that’s considered prestigious in their homelands. Unfortunately, I never had an open or honest dialogue with an international student during my years at BU. They seemed more interested in bombing their supercars up and down Commonwealth Ave. and getting arrested for doing 100 miles an hour down Beacon St.
Within the first day of my BC orientation, I was having a cultural discussion with a student from Syria and another who had lived all over the world. They were engaging and invested in BC, ready to contribute their unique perspective to the larger whole. I was home again. We Eagles come from every dot on the globe. We come from different regions, religions, socioeconomic statuses, genders, sexual orientations, and abilities. We come and we attach ourselves to the united ideal of being “a man or woman for others” and regardless of how disparate another’s life experiences have been from our own, we are always more than happy to pull up a chair to the table of conversation. There is a shared identity here at BC that is absent at BU. For this reason I am glad to be home, “For here all are one.”
Featured Image by Francisco Ruela / Heights Graphic