We are deeply disturbed by the incident that took place last Saturday, Sept. 17 regarding a homophobic slur displayed on a vandalized parking sign in the Mod Lot. In light of these events, there are many questions and issues surrounding what occurred Saturday night and what has—or rather, what has not—followed.
First and foremost, we are extremely saddened, angered, and disturbed by the incident. It is important for the Boston College community to recognize this occurrence as one of blatant hate speech—not merely a joke in poor taste or an isolated incident. This violation offends and threatens our community, and we affirm that there is never justification or excuse for such violent speech. Further, we want to acknowledge that homophobia violates our community in many ways, impacting male survivors of sexual violence, queer-identifying or otherwise, fueling rape culture, and negating our Jesuit identity of love and service to the marginalized.
Secondly, the minimization of such hate should concern us all. As one student so clearly explained, “If you say you care about social justice, [or] you say you’re a Christian, [or] you say Black Lives Matter, then this should enrage you, too. We can’t selectively care about justice and peace.” As in the recent events impacting the gay community in Orlando, actions driven by homophobia cannot be untangled from intersections of racism, sexism, ableism, and so on, which we are committed to fight. While this incident must be made public knowledge, the manner in which the incident has since been treated by our campus has indirectly exacerbated the sadness and anger surrounding the event.
There are several student news resources on campus, and yet many in our community failed to hear of this event due to violent silence that consumes many social justice issues. To quote Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the premise of the Bystander Intervention program, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” What is most concerning, however, is not neutrality, but a silence that serves as tolerance and passive support.
The ease with which publications have reposted photos, quoted the sign directly, and repeated the speech only further highlights the normalization and endemic nature of this hate. We must ask ourselves if such actions would be tolerated if the slur had been sexist, racist, or ableist. If the outcomes would be different, we must consider why and what action to take going forward.
The Women’s Center is an open space to process this event and other issues regarding sexism, racism, ableism, and so on. Likewise, we want to acknowledge the resources available through the Dean of Students Office, especially Caroline Davis and Mark D’Angelo. Additionally, University Counseling Services offers a confidential space for all students.
We stand in solidarity with marginalized peers and denounce hate of any kind on this campus. We are deeply concerned with our community’s response to this incident, and continue to demand that our university be one of love, inclusion, and celebration.
Student Staff Members of the Women’s Center
Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Archives