On Monday morning, the Undergraduate Government of Boston College issued a statement regarding the recent fatal shootings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and several Dallas police officers. The statement was initially released on Facebook, and can be read in full below:
In light of several recent acts of violence in our nation, UGBC’s Executive Council and Division of Diversity and Inclusion wish to express their solidarity with those who have been affected by these events.
As many of us know, on Tuesday, July 5, two white police officers shot and killed Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black father of five, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana while he was selling CDs outside of a convenience store. A video taken by a bystander shows two police officers on top of Sterling as they simultaneously yell for him to get on the ground before firing their weapons at point blank range into Sterling’s chest.
Less than twenty-four hours later, Philando Castile, a 32-year-old black man, was shot and killed by a police officer in Minnesota. Castile’s vehicle was pulled over due to a malfunctioning tail light, and while speaking with the officer, Castile volunteered that he had a permitted weapon in the car. As he went to provide credentials and identification, Castile was shot multiple times and consequently bled to death as his fiance and her daughter looked on.
Naturally, communities of color, as well as those that cannot identify but stand in solidarity, are grieving the loss of these two men and the many others who have been killed in similar scenarios.
In the wake of these tragic events, a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas turned fatal as an assailant unaffiliated with the movement shot into the crowd. Targeting police officers, the assailant shot and killed 5 officers and wounded many more. Our thoughts and condolences are with the departed officers and their families, and to those recovering officers, we pray for a timely recovery and return to duty, hopefully to a more just and peaceful setting.
While these times of turmoil and tragic reminders of oppression and injustice have in the past bred “us versus them” sentiments, we should and will stand in solidarity, regardless of our identities, creeds, and careers, with all those who work and strive for a free and peaceful world.
We want to emphasize that our acknowledgements of acts of police brutality are not intended to demonize or dismiss law enforcement officers. Our criticism is not with all police officers, but with the system currently in place that has allowed law enforcement to kill (primarily black) people of color at such a high frequency, and with little to no consequence.
Moreover, these murders occurred on the heels of the act of terrorism that took place in Orlando last month, which primarily targeted LGBTQ+ people of color. As a result, the past weeks have been a time of fear for many of us, and have brought about anxiety and sadness as we face a world where certain groups of people are systematically and continually oppressed and marginalized.
We acknowledge the pain that these events have caused, and encourage anyone affected by these acts of violence who needs a space to heal, process, or just sit to visit the Thea Bowman AHANA Intercultural Center, which is open Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm. Additionally, the leaders of UGBC, and specifically the Chairs and Vice Chairs of the Diversity and Inclusion division, are always available to talk or participate in discussions on these events (our contact information can be found below). The tragedies of the past month affect all of us. It is important that we acknowledge each other’s and our own pain, as well as honor the memories and lives of the departed.
The mission of the Division of Diversity and Inclusion within UGBC, and the student government as a whole, is to create and promote a welcoming, equal, and accepting culture on campus for all students, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and other aspects of our identities. We urge the students of Boston College to educate themselves on these events, to engage in conversations with peers and faculty about them, and to commit to creating a culture on campus that perpetuates love and acceptance rather than hate, hostility, and anger. Discussion on these topics can be productive and meaningful when those involved are mindful and respectful of others participating in the conversation.
That being said, we all exist beyond the campus of Boston College. We encourage students to think about the potential that they can have, and the positive change that we students—especially when we work as a united front—can bring about. Participate in a peaceful protest; engage in meaningful conversation; reach out to friends and family who may be particularly affected at this time. It is up to all of us to stand up to racism when we see it and to remain critical of social media. Ultimately each step, no matter how small, is significant and contributes to the betterment of our communities and our country. While for the time being we as a Boston College community are apart, we can be united in our empathetic and passionate response to the injustices that affect our nation and its inhabitants.
Russell Simons, MCAS ’17 and President ([email protected])
Meredith McCaffrey, MCAS ’17 and Executive Vice President ([email protected])
Collin Pratt, MCAS ’17 and Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion ([email protected])
Akosua Achampong, MCAS ’18 and AHANA Leadership Council, Chair ([email protected])
Kerrian Johnson, MCAS ’18 and AHANA Leadership Council, Vice Chair ([email protected])
Anne Williams, MCAS ’17 and GLBTQ Leadership Council, Chair ([email protected])
Nick Massimino,LSOE ’18 and GLBTQ Leadership Council, Vice Chair ([email protected])
Mary Royer, LSOE ’17 and Council for Students with Disabilities, Chair ([email protected])
Araba Mantey, MCAS ’18 and Diversity and Inclusion Programming Board, Manager ([email protected])
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Senior Staff