As the sun was setting Monday evening, Boston College students, faculty, and administrators gathered on O’Neill Plaza, holding advocacy signs and chanting “Muslim rights, human rights; gay rights, human rights.”
A few hundred students, faculty, and administrators gathered to show their disapproval of President-elect Donald Trump, to share their fears and concerns about the future, and to demonstrate their support for one another during this time of uncertainty.
The rally, which was sponsored by Eradicate Boston College Racism, began at 4:30 p.m. The crowd formed an inner circle made of BC community members who felt scared or saddened because of the recent presidential election, with the outer circle made of allies.
“I know if anyone here has been feeling the way I’ve been feeling the past six days, it’s pretty paralyzing,” said Sriya Bhattacharyya, a member of Eradicate and BC ’16. “And it’s so valuable to see so many folks coming together to support one another.”
Many in the inner and outer circles held candles to grieve.
“We’re grieving our fears of losing our human rights,” she said. “We’re grieving for those who are Muslim, queer, indigenous, undocumented, black, minorities—communities all over the world who feel marginalized at this time.”
The candles also gave students a sense of hope and resistance, she said.
“As we hold onto each other and our grief, we hold up light for hope,” Bhattacharyya said. “So tonight we’re standing here together in solidarity, both grieving and fighting back.”
Led by members of Eradicate, the crowd used several chants, including, “Muslim rights, human rights; gay rights, human rights.” It also adopted several chants used at various protests throughout the country over the past week, including, “No Donald Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA.”
After several minutes of chanting, the crowd took a moment of silence to reflect on all that had happened in the past week.
Eradicate held the event because it is upset with a perceived silence from BC following the elections. The group wanted students, faculty, and administrators to take a stand rather than allowing Trump’s rhetoric to go unchallenged. Over 200 faculty and staff have signed a letter to the editor in today’s Heights calling for the BC community to come together and heal any rifts caused by the election’s frequently divisive rhetoric. The Undergraduate Government of Boston College also issued a statement encouraging inclusion. Andy Boynton, the dean of the Carroll School of Management, and Gregory Kalscheur, the dean of the Morrissey College of Arts & Sciences, sent emails to students in their respective schools addressing the events.
Since the elections last week, various departments and student groups have been hosting discussion sessions and support groups for students who feel scared and upset from the results of the election. The rally also comes after a string of major rallies across the nation, including one on Boston Common on Friday.
Bhattacharyya stressed the importance of condemning the hateful rhetoric used throughout the 2016 presidential campaign.
“It is time to commit ourselves to take a stand,” she said. “Tolerance of racism, homophobia, islamophobia, misogyny, and other words of violence and oppression is not setting the world aflame.”
The administration, Bhattacharyya said, should also take a stand to condemn the caustic rhetoric of the president-elect. Kim Ashby, a member of Eradicate and LGSOE ’17, agreed.
“Tonight is a time to stand up against the neutrality that Boston College upholds,” she said.
Eradicate did not register the rally. Because it is not a registered student group, it does not have the right to register an on-campus event.
After the moment of silence, students who wanted to speak were invited to address the crowd.
Cedrick Simmons, a member of Eradicate and GMCAS ’17, asked all attendees to continue to show support for Eradicate even after the rally, and he condemned the administration for what he sees as unnecessary punishment against students who protest on campus.
Simmons stressed the importance of defending what you believe and supporting others.
“I hope you all will volunteer not just in the classroom or not just in a moment of pain,” he said.
Chad Olle, a member of Eradicate and LGSOE ’17, asked the crowd how many people had heard someone talk about the importance of unity and civil dialogue over the past week. He said that Eradicate disagrees that all opinions are worth listening to. Instead, Eradicate wants to challenge Trump’s rhetoric and his message.
“Vague calls for unity are not enough. We need to take a stand.”
—Chad Olle, a member of Eradicate and LGSOE ’17
“If the dialogue begins with you telling me that me or somebody I love is not valued, does not matter, is not worthy of respect, does not deserve equal opportunity, then you need to go look up ‘civil’ in the dictionary,” he said. “Because where I come from, that is not how a civil conversation starts with you telling someone that they’re not valued, that they don’t matter.”
He believes that the dialogues need to be reframed, and that it is the job of administrators to take responsibility for changing these dialogues.
“Vague calls for unity are not enough,” he said. “We need to take a stand.”
The next student to take the megaphone was a white female student who said she was a survivor of sexual assault. She said she was thankful for the gathering.
“I don’t feel safe,” she said. “I have to say, we call ourselves the United States, but we are a country united by hate. And I refuse to let that happen.”
Shaun McGuffey, a professor in the sociology department, said he was proud to see everyone at the rally, but he knows that the next four years will require a lot of work.
“This is just the beginning of a very, very long fight,” he said. “And that’s what this is going to be—a fight. It’s going to be a battle.”
Like Olle, he has heard many conversations about coming together and about unity. This is not unity, though, this is oppression, he said.
“We have to name it as it is,” McGuffey said. “I refuse to have my humanity debated.”
McGuffey called on everyone to help him. Everybody needs to have a plan for what they are going to do tomorrow, he said. He encouraged students to start as soon as possible, because one of his concerns is that if they wait, they will become too tired to fight.
“The stakes are too high for you all—my family—to give up,” McGuffey said.
Students can get involved by calling their state representatives tomorrow, he said.
Conversations usually have certain formalities—when someone asks you how you are, you say you’re doing well, Shaun Glaze, LSOE ’18 said. But this week her response has been different.
She encouraged students at the rally to respond honestly to this question and to get involved as soon as possible.
Over the past week, Frank Garcia, who is the assistant manager for the Montserrat Office, has had students in his office crying and scared about the future. He said that he is just as uncertain about the next four years.
“I can’t tell you it’s going to be okay because I don’t know if it’s going to be okay,” he said.
Since he was born, Garcia has always faced discrimination, he said, so this is nothing new for him. Instead, what this election has done, in his view, is show that America is racist.
This realization, though, will allow minorities to come together as they never have before, Garcia said. All people of different races, religions, sexualities, and genders, can come together to fight for justice and equality.
“It’s about coming together as a unit and fighting as people who care about each other,” he said.
Garcia said it is okay to admit to one another that we are scared or upset. He encouraged students to stop giving each other the “BC lookaway” and to get to know one another.
“It’s about love, it’s about love, and it’s about love,” he said.
Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Staff