If you were near the quad in front of Stokes around 6:00 p.m. on April 1, you probably saw about 20 people lying on their backs in the snow. “Idiots,” you probably thought. “It is 20 degrees outside. Snow is actively falling on their faces.”
Here’s what you probably didn’t think about: we, the idiots in question, had to submit our act of masochism to the University for pre-approval at least 48 hours in advance. Did you get that? We had to ask the University for permission to lie on our backs in the snow for 16 minutes, shivering and picturing that scene in The Hateful Eight where Samuel L. Jackson makes the guy walk through the snow naked. Some of us were contemplating the pain of activists who had come before us, while some of us, and I won’t name names, were silently calculating our odds of catching pneumonia.
We didn’t do this on a whim. We did this to commemorate the shooting of Laquan McDonald, a black man shot 16 times by police, on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination. We were exercising our right to peaceable assembly as defended in the Constitution. And it makes me livid that in agreeing to attend Boston College, I have signed over my right to speak my mind in the company of like-minded individuals without having to fill out a form first.
Let me get this straight. If I go lie on my back in the snow by myself, I just look like a jackass. But if 20 other people come and lie on their backs at the same time, suddenly it’s a federal issue?
As a citizen of these United States, I have the God-given right to look like a jackass in public whenever, and with whomever I choose. If I want to stand on my head in the Quad and scream about how Oompa-Loompas did 9-11, I should be able to do that. If 15 other people want to join in, they should be able to, and someone should definitely get the whole thing on video.
If this were a flash mob, if we decided to lie in the snow for the Vine, no one would care. But if we do it because we’re passionate about a civil rights issue, because we care about social justice … suddenly it’s against University policy?
Look, I don’t think I’m asking for the world here. I just want to be able to lie face-up on my back in a snowy field without someone waving a form in my face. Under the current system, I have to talk to an administrator even if what I am commenting on is the administration itself. The administration is making a conscious decision to value its clean-cut Catholic image above the voices of its student body.
I just want to lie on my back in the Quad without talking to an administrator first. Can I live?
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor