It’s melancholy to those who walk through the Boston College campus to think of the purpose of the education they receive. As any BC student knows, the purpose of our Jesuit education is to educate “men and women for others.” Yet, I think all parties would agree that this motto doesn’t fit what we are really about. We are BC, and we are surely not a college for all others. Surely there must be some qualifications regarding the caliber of those who benefit from BC alumni philanthropy. Let’s work through these qualifications, and in making our motto more specific, make our endeavors more focused and more successful. In the end, I believe a revised campus culture could fit our current motto—but, seeing as BC is not an institution fond of changing itself, I deem it easier to revise our motto.
Well, let us begin simply. Surely we are not men and women for sinners. After all, sex before marriage is a sin, and we do not provide contraceptives for those sinners—rather, the diseases and negative consequences of unprotected fornication is their own fault. Sex is a sin, and we do not condone their choices. Thus, we will not provide for their well-being, nor assist them when needed. BC currently does not provide Plan B to sexual assault victims—clearly, we are not men and women for them either. Let us temporarily revise the motto to now read, “men and women for virtuous others”—an amendment we are all surely in agreement over.
As men and women of learning, we recognize the value of peace and quiet. Thus, it is only natural and right that we be opposed to those who make noise. We want quiet. After students raised the loudest voices for racial equality this campus has seen, the administration chose the absolute best course of action. The only acceptable treatment for these boisterous muckrakers—when they hold rallies, walks, or protests—is for BC to respond by barely responding at all. Or, if absolutely necessary, with minimal action. Even when these students held a quiet protest one year after their noisy walk through campus, we remained firm and sent not a notable comment to the student body addressing it! Evidently, and naturally, we should promote “men and women for virtuous and silent others.”
Now, there is an incredibly large group of people we are not men and women for others, and that’s those affected by climate change: others directly affected by the growing global temperatures and limited water supplies, others in California suffering under the fiery consequences of increasing climate change. Actually, we take no grand steps to address climate change. Despite being men and women for others, and despite Pope Francis writing on our “ecological crisis,” we remain unchanged. Despite Laudato Si describing how “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue” and how “it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience,” we choose to remain invested in fossil fuels and makes no steps to follow the pope’s directions.
In the face of ecological crisis and the horrific destruction of our environment, we remain steadfast and unchanged. Since we are not all of the problem, we form no part of the problem and don’t need to change! On a campus that doesn’t react to the Undergraduate Government of Boston College’s call for divestment of fossil fuels or to the pope’s plea to protect our “common home,” it is clear we are not men and women for those affected by climate change. Now, to exclude those affected by climate change is to exclude the entire world (ourselves included), so I propose we pretend that we shall remain unaffected by rising global temperatures: This fantasy should continue to be convincing!
Perhaps the above grievances with our grossly outdated motto can be summarized in one clear and unequivocal condition: We are not men and women for those who are gluttonous. Yet another form of sin, we in no way can be seen as supporting gluttons. Those who ask for more, desire more, and wish to improve their station are not welcome. The masses have enough! (Unless, of course, one desires profit. That, obviously, is acceptable.) If one has a disgusting appetite for better mental health resources, better campus culture or better dining conditions, more action toward a collapsing environment, more commentary on an increasingly authoritarian government, more sexual protection for students, more racial compassion for all—we say they ask too much! They should be like us: virtuous, moderate, and silent.
This plan is a rather simple one, a very easy solution to our current problem. It is my proposal that this change, being the easiest and requiring the least effort, be adopted immediately! Although—and I hesitate to bring forth an idea that is objectively more difficult and strenuous on our administration—there is one other solution: We could adhere to the current motto as is, and in so doing, revise the culture the motto is meant to encapsulate. This is an incredibly difficult task, truly being a man or women for another.
At the end of the day, there are so many others to be men and women for. To truly devote ourselves to others, to address the needs of our student body and of our fractured environment, we must change ourselves drastically. If we are not for sinners, gluttons, protestors, or any others sharing this common home, are we truly men and women for others? I think the hypocrisy would be too great to claim so. Instead, I offer this easy solution—a recognition, a final proposal for a revised motto: We must truly be “men and women for ourselves.”
I hope my proposal is given the utmost consideration.
Featured Graphic by Anna Tierney / Graphics Editor