Dear students of Boston College,
The events of the past week have rightfully sparked outrage amongst our student body, and our responses to these events have triggered a chain reaction that, for better or for worse, can no longer be stopped. It is undoubtedly our duty to do everything in our power to eradicate discrimination in any form from this campus and to demand that our administration act as “men and women for others” when they handle such incidents. However, it is also our responsibility to ensure that our responses to these events leave a positive and constructive legacy, and that is something we must continue to strive for in these difficult times.
Obviously, reactions will be driven by emotion. I am in no position to tell people affected by these events that they should not be angry, and that is not what I am saying, but I strongly implore everyone to channel that emotion and direct it towards making a positive change in our community rather than trying to combat hate with hate. I attended the rally that happened only one night after the vandalized signs and Snapchat post began widely circulating on social media. I witnessed students share stories of how the administration has failed to deal with racially motivated incidents beforehand. These stories completely shocked me, but to the people of color in the crowd these stories were not shocking at all. That was a seriously needed wake-up call.
Unfortunately, the rally also provided a platform for people to harass and scream at students going to and from their classes for not attending the rally. I witnessed one person point out that they “knew where [the person responsible for the snapchat post] lived” and that anyone could use the Boston College directory to search for the dorm building and number. Yes, emotions were running high, but that cannot be an excuse for students of BC to berate fellow students for wanting to attend class in peace or advocate the locating and vandalizing of someone else’s room. We cannot fight vandalism with vandalism. We must not fight hate with hate.
While we do have to work on how we respond to events like this, this past week has proved how far we’ve come as a student body. While Monday’s rally was an emotionally charged kneejerk reaction, Friday’s march was a demonstration that we can all come together and unite against discrimination on our campus. The speakers focused on previous experiences and demands for the administration, and there were barely any personal attacks at all. This is the direction our protests must step in.
Please do not see this as a white male telling you how to protest. See this as a fellow student wanting our reactions as a student body to be seen as constructive, not destructive, and know that I will always support you, and that I will never stop advocating for your right to equality on this campus.
Sam Szemerenyi, MCAS ’20