The Jesuit Student Government Alliance (JSGA) released a statement condemning “the trend of prejudice and discrimination that still extends across our campuses.” Boston College is one of four JSGA member institutions that experienced an incident concerning discrimination recently—Holy Cross, St. Joseph’s University, and Regis College are the others.
Reed Piercey, Undergraduate Government of BC president and MCAS ’19, was one of the primary draft writers of the statement. He said that the JSGA voted to draft a statement on hate crime legislation at its winter summit this past January, an initiative he pushed for in the wake of Michael Sorkin, CSOM ’21, vandalizing Welch Hall with racist epithets.
Multiple undergraduate representatives who are a part of JSGA noticed going into the summit that more and more often, undergraduate leaders from various institutions were mentioning to their colleagues that hate crimes and discrimination was becoming a significant issue on their respective campuses. Once the idea was put forward at the summit, it quickly garnered support, and members such as Piercey went to work on drafting the statement.
It was delayed until this week for a variety of reasons, but Piercey said he believed the message matters, regardless of how much time has passed between discriminatory incidents on individual college campuses—the statement is about what institutions should be doing to prepare for the next incident.
“We realized [discrimination] is a problem that is endemic to Jesuit schools,” Piercey said. “We thought there’d be some benefit to making some statement about it in the context that we’re all Jesuit—our values should in theory preclude [the endemic nature of discriminatory issues], but they don’t.”
This is the first statement the JSGA has released in its young lifespan, and Piercey is particularly curious about how releasing such a statement alliance-wide will affect individual member institutions. He said the five emphasis points are items that member colleges can pursue for the foreseeable future, or delve deeper into the nuances of the points if the member institutions have already developed satisfactory resources for combating hate on campuses.
He cited BC as an example of an institution somewhere in the middle. The first point of emphasis in the statement calls on institutions to update orientation and first-year programs to include more diversity and inclusion programming. Piercey said that at BC, that means reconsidering and improving upon last semester’s DiversityEdu module. He noted that the DiversityEdu task force is already working on shooting new segments and creating more BC-centric material for the next edition of the module.
The second point of emphasis is to integrate “social justice initiatives” and “experiential learning” into curriculums. Piercey noted that the core renewal program is working on revamping the University’s cultural diversity requirement moving forward, which falls along the same lines as what the JSGA is asking its institutions to implement.
The third point is one Piercey sees as an area in which BC needs to address: providing mandatory diversity and inclusion competency training for faculty, staff, and students. Faculty and staff aren’t required to take intercultural development inventory (IDI) courses. Though, in a perfect world, Piercey would like to see 100 percent participation—he knows that that isn’t realistic, so he’s pushing administrators to consider incorporating IDI courses into the tenure requirement.
The final two emphasis points ask for increased resources for victims and continued collaboration between JSGA colleges and outside organizations that can provide further education, resources, or other materials for students.
“We now expect that every member of student government in JSGA will prioritize those five points, but how that plays out and how each administration will sort of depends on our campuses,” Piercey said. “It’s just kind of a statement of how we’re orienting our work for the foreseeable future.”
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