Rob Bohn, a member of Eradicate Boston College Racism and MCAS ’16, distributed an infographic about the different approaches that colleges across the country are taking to combat institutional racism in O’Neill Library on Wednesday afternoon. The infographic, which compared the efforts by the administrations at Yale University, Brown University, and BC to promote diversity on campus, was part of the group’s current campaign, entitled “12 Days of Boston College Racism.” The posters marked the ninth day.
The infographic demonstrated how Yale and Brown are investing resources and money to terminate institutional racism. Yale pledged $50 million to enhance faculty diversity, increase financial aid for low-income students, and increase funding for programs that promote diversity and inclusion. Brown announced that the university plans to spend $100 million in the next 10 years to deal with issues of racism and diversity on campus.
Pat DeLeeuw, vice provost for faculties in the Office of the Provost and Dean of Faculties, has said that the administration works to hire faculty and admit students of AHANA backgrounds. She noted that when she began working at BC in 2000, only 11 percent of the faculty identified as AHANA—now 16 percent of faculty do.
Bohn said the administration makes it difficult for students to hang posters in many areas.
“One of the things on Boston College’s campus that’s kind of different than a lot of other campuses is that it’s very nice looking, very whitewashed, very pristine and beautiful in one regard,” Bohn said.
“I sensed a positive reception. People were eager to check it out, even amidst this time when people are busy studying.”
– Rob Bohn, a member of Eradicate Boston College Racism and MCAS ’16
He explained that Eradicate went around posting flyers, which were promptly taken down by BC staff. It was then that he decided to distribute the flyers directly to the students.
“We’ve tried to get our graphics approved before, and they get stuck in bureaucratic channels for months,” said Sriya Bhattacharyya, GLSOE ’16 and leader of Eradicate, when talking about the removal of the posters.
While some of the students were busy working and didn’t pay the flyer much attention, many of the students, he said, were intrigued by the infographic.
“As I got to the main area of the library, I could hear a dull roar, like a rumbling, a murmur, because people started talking about this,” Bohn said.
Bohn said that when he reached the back of the library, students came up to him, asking him more about the flyers and what Eradicate is doing on campus. He added that people came up to him to ask for additional flyers.
“I sensed a positive reception,” he said. “People were eager to check it out, even amidst this time when people are busy studying.”
As part of the ninth day, the group went through the University’s archives and found articles in The Heights archives that they believe show how the University has not implemented new policies to diversify the faculty and student body over the years. In a letter to the Board of Trustees, Eradicate asked that a faculty member of color, a staff member of color, and a student of color be added to the Board and be allowed to vote.
On the second day of the campaign, called “Ghosts of BC’s Past,” a group of alumni donated over $1,000 to Eradicate, rather than donating to the University directly.
On the third day, 61 faculty members signed a letter to support Eradicate’s movement. The members of Eradicate then delivered holiday gifts to these faculty members to thank them for their support.
During the fifth day, called “BCPD is Coming to Town,” Eradicate posted videos complaining that BCPD has not released any documentation on an investigation that took place after an incident at Modstock last year. Students had filed complaints after the concert saying that two officers put their hands on Bhattacharyya while she was handing out posters that promoted equality on campus.
“It’s been eight months since four students filed the complaints,” Bhattacharyya said. “They will not give any reason for why they will not make the results public.”
On the sixth day, “Come All Ye Faithful,” Eradicate invited students to post videos about why they believe that institutional racism is wrong, specifically as people of faith.
“It didn’t have to necessarily be religious faith,” Bryn Spielvogel, GLSOE ’17, said. “It could just be their faith in social justice or pretty much anything that they believed in strongly.”
People have a difficult time realizing that they are racist, Spielvogel said. It takes a lot of energy, she said, to examine your own life and understand how we can improve our attitudes and actions.
The list of demands that Eradicate delivered to Dean of Students Thomas Mogan during their caroling last week, Bhattacharyya said, was apparently given to the Board of Trustees as the protesters requested. Eradicate hopes that the demands, which included having a faculty member of color, a staff member of color, and a student of color on the Board, will be met by Jan. 19, the date they set as their deadline.
“We need to look within ourselves and understand how we need to fight this internally and externally, and recognize that racism is not a problem with black people and brown people, it’s a problem with white people” Spielvogel said.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Staff