Around midnight on Friday, March 16, two students—Matthew Barad, MCAS ’19, and a graduate student who requested anonymity—were found by Boston College Police Department (BCPD) officers while writing chalk messages on a sidewalk in front of Stokes Hall. They said they were then brought to BCPD headquarters in Maloney Hall, for “tagging.” The Gavel first reported on this incident on March 17.
“When the officer first came upon them they admitted their involvement,” said Chief of BCPD John King in an email to The Heights. “They agreed to show the officers over a dozen locations where they had ‘chalked.’ Officers then asked if they would file written statements which they agreed to. The statements were made indoors at the BCPD station given the cold temperature of that night. The students were generally cooperative and were free to leave at any time.”
The students received official disciplinary summons from the Office of the Dean of Students for violating the “Property Damage” clause of the Code of Conduct. Barad said that he and the graduate student will receive their disciplinary verdicts Monday.
In an email, Dean of Students Tom Mogan said that he was unable to discuss individual conduct cases due to federal privacy laws.
The chalking by Barad and the graduate student is part of a wider organized demonstration. During the week leading up to this incident, similar messages written in chalk could be found throughout campus beginning Monday, March 12. In the public police blotter, eight total incident reports were filed for “Damage to Property by Graffiti/Tag” between March 13 and March 16.
According to the Crimes Against Personal Property Chapter of Mass. General Law Section 126A, “tagging” is the act of spraying or applying paint or placing a sticker upon any object or thing on public or private property “with the intent to deface, mar, damage, mark or destroy such property.”
“I was writing a number of messages,” Barad said. “I wrote ‘Black Lives Matter,’ ‘BC doesn’t have an LGBTQ Resource Center,’ ‘Our School, Our Sidewalk,’ and others.”
The “Property Damage” section of the Students Code of Conduct, which the students were charged under, does not explicitly specify chalking as an act of vandalism. The only policy surrounding chalking can be found on the Office of Student Involvement (OSI) website under the posting policy for event planning, which states that “Sidewalk chalk is not permitted anywhere on campus.” In the posting policy document, it specifies that “no announcement may be written or painted/chalked upon any building, sidewalk, or other natural feature of the campus.”
The two students said they were taken to BCPD headquarters in separate police cruisers, where they said officers questioned them and took their statements.
The two students spoke at length about their interaction with BCPD, but The Heights was unable to reach BCPD to confirm the details.
When asked if he knew that chalking was in violation of University policy, Barad said, “I did not. And I am still not convinced it is.”
The posting policy states that violations of the policy would be handled by removing of the postings or banners, revoking of the student organization’s posting privileges in the future, and a $100 fine for organizations specifically for posting on bus stops or Emergency Call Boxes. The two students who are facing sanctions were not operating on behalf of an organization.
Featured Image by Cole Dady / News Editor
April 9, 2018, 10:02 p.m.: This story was updated with a comment from the Chief of BCPD John King.
April 11, 2018, 8:16 p.m.: This story was updated with a detailed explanation of the incident from Chief of BCPD John King.