2017 Our Year in Review


2017 was huge for Boston College. We cheered together, and we marched together. We celebrated legacies and welcomed new faces. We made history on the field, broke ground on new buildings, and set our most ambitious goals yet. As always, thanks for reading.


I. News

The Trump Effect: President Donald Trump has had an immeasurable impact on higher ed in the past year. On campus, Trump’s January executive order banning travel from several Muslim-majority countries was met with concern and a widely attended demonstration on O’Neill Plaza. His positions on funding for environmental research and humanities grants sowed uncertainty, and a rules change on granting visas complicated BC’s hiring of foreign professors. Like many schools, BC is wary of the tax bill that passed Congress in December, in part due to its tax on university endowments—and BC’s did very well in fiscal 2017. University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., has weighed in on Trump several times, comparing him to Andrew Jackson in February, and criticizing his administration’s travel ban, his rhetoric on the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, his decision to phase out the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, and the tax bill.

Martin O’Malley: Last spring, BC was home to another 2016 presidential hopeful: former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who taught a class at BC Law. We sat down with O’Malley to talk about his life, his career, and his band

UGBC: In February, Akosua Achampong and Tt King, both MCAS ’18, were elected as the first female duo to lead the Undergraduate Government of Boston College. Achampong—who won the 2017 MLK Scholarship that same week—is also the first black female UGBC president.

J. Donald Monan: In March, University Chancellor Rev. J. Donald Monan, S.J., who served as university president for 24 pivotal years, died at 92. Monan is credited with saving BC from bankruptcy and transforming it into a nationally recognized research university. “The spirit and the essence of J. Donald Monan will thunder through the halls of Boston College for eternity,” said one of his eulogists, Geoffrey Boisi, BC ’69. We talked to two longtime BC trustees about Monan’s impact. Our editorial board made the case for BC to rename 90 St. Thomas More Road after Monan.

Free expression: After helping to organize two unregistered protests in late 2016, seven members of the group Eradicate BC Racism were sanctioned by the University. After meetings between graduate students and administrators, the Office of the Dean of Students updated the Student Code of Conduct policy on free expression in September, clarifying rules about who can register a demonstration. Students said they are happy about some aspects of the update but are still looking for more.

Trouble abroad: Some BC students found themselves at the scenes of international incidents in 2017. In March, we talked to a student who was in Parliament during the terror attack at Westminster Bridge in London. In June, another student came to the rescue during an attack around London Bridge. And in September, four BC juniors studying abroad were attacked with acid outside a train station in Marseille.

UIS: BC students have been registering for courses the same way for 40 years. Ever wonder why? We traced the history of UIS from its origins in the 1970s through several different projects, up until today, as BC works on developing an update in-house.

One-hit wonders: Some stories that connected with readers most this year were an investigation into emergency blue lights on campus, the seniors who had a terrible time at the 100 Days Dance, and the freshmen who rented out Airbnbs to throw parties.

Ever to Excel: In April, we wrote about BC’s planned Institute for Integrated Science and Society, part of a $300 million total investment in the sciences that serves as the centerpiece of the University’s new strategic plan, “Ever to Excel.” BC announced in November that the Institute will be named for Phil Schiller, BC ’82, the senior VP of marketing at Apple, following a $25 million donation. Elsewhere on campus, BC announced that the new athletic complex will be named for the Connell family, following a $50 million donation, and construction started on both the indoor practice facility on what was Shea Field and a baseball and softball field on Brighton.

Graduate Employees Union: In March, BC’s Graduate Employees Union joined dozens of schools nationwide by filing with the National Labor Relations Board for a bargaining rights election. After the union was granted the election, BC appealed the decision and filed a motion to stay the election, which the NLRB rejected. The union eventually passed 270-224, a closer vote than some expected, and in November voted to determine the structure of its bargaining committee. For its presence on campus last year, in May we selected the union as our 2016-17 Person of the Year.

A movement, not a moment: In October, racist incidents in a residence hall and a widely circulated Snapchat set off an extraordinary week of activism at BC, with an emotional rally on O’Neill Plaza on Monday, a walkout attended by hundreds on Wednesday, and a “Silence is Still Violence” march through campus on Friday. Several student leaders said they considered BC’s response to the incidents inadequate, and made formal demands of the University. Before Thanksgiving, BC responded, announcing a plan to implement several of the demands. Some of the students involved said they are cautiously optimistic. The Heights also talked to freshmen of color—members of BC’s most-diverse class ever—about how they processed the events, which took place just weeks into their college careers. Here’s a gallery of pictures from the march.

New voices: In October, Peter Markell, BC ’77, was formally announced as the new chair of the Board of Trustees, along with several new members. The Heights interviewed Markell about his career and his goals as the Board’s new chair. The University also announced the creation of a Board of Regents, which aims to serve in an advisory role to the trustees and Leahy.

The end of Honors: After BC announced in October that, after almost 60 years, the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences Honors Program will end with the Class of 2021, the Lynch School of Education and the Carroll School of Management followed suit, with CSOM Dean Andy Boynton writing in an email that the program’s end would not impact CSOM’s yield of top students. We talked to some members of the MCAS Honors Program about their thoughts on its end, with some saying they were happy, and others deeply upset.

Eagle-Eyed: 2017 also marked the debut of The Heights’s investigative podcast, “Eagle-Eyed.” We took listeners inside the August Boston free-speech rally and counterprotest, the intricacies of the Graduate Employees Union, the Boston mayoral election, and the “Silence is Still Violence” march and its aftermath.


The year’s most important front pages

To see more issues, take a look at our archives.



II. Sports

New AD: In February, Brad Bates announced he would step down as BC’s athletic director after over four years on the job. After a two-month search, BC hired Martin Jarmond, the deputy AD at Ohio State. At his introductory press conference, Jarmond brought excitement, despite offering few details. Our sports editor gave him a brief to-do list. So far in his tenure, Jarmond has made at least one major gameday change for fans: Conte Forum and Alumni Stadium now have expanded alcohol offerings.

Change of scenery: In February, men’s hockey finished last in the Beanpot for the first time since 1993, as Harvard took the tournament. After beating Boston University in the Hockey East semifinal, the Eagles’ season ended with a loss to UMass Lowell in the final, missing the NCAA Tournament, something they hadn’t done since 2009. This season is perhaps the biggest yet for Joe Woll, the BC goalie who’s just coming into his own.

Frozen Four: Following an almost-perfect 2016 in which the team lost in the national championship, women’s hockey returned to the Frozen Four, after two overtime victories—with both goals scored by captain Andie Anastos—won the team the Hockey East Tournament. The Eagles’ season ended with a 1-0 loss to Wisconsin in the national semifinal.

Snap Story: In a story that won a Pacemaker Award from the Associated College Press, we talked to Leonard Skubal, BC’s standout former long snapper, about what it’s like to have a critical but underappreciated job. He even showed us a thing or two about the craft.

NFL Draft: At the NFL Draft in April, the Los Angeles Rams selected John Johnson in the third round, and the Buffalo Bills took Matt Milano in the fifth round. Johnson is now a starter at safety for a Rams team that is bound for the playoffs.

Representing the Nation: In April, defensemen Megan Keller and Kali Flanagan decided to redshirt after being selected to represent the United States in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. This October, freshman defenseman Cayla Barnes joined them as a late addition to the team, earning a voucher to restart her college career next year. Not everyone was so lucky, though. Goaltender Katie Burt, who is knocking on the door of becoming the all-time wins leader in women’s college hockey, did not earn a bid. Read the features on Barnes and Burt from our hockey preview.  

Birdball: A year removed from a deep playoff run in 2016, baseball clinched a spot in the ACC Tournament in the team’s final game at Shea Field, but lost three days later to North Carolina State. In June, Donovan Casey, Johnny Adams, and Jacob Stevens were taken in the MLB Draft. Read our features on Casey and Adams from this year’s spring sports preview.

A fairytale for lacrosse: BC’s lacrosse team made it to the program’s first-ever Final Four—winning the semifinal in a nail-biter at Gillette Stadium—before ultimately losing the final to No. 1 Maryland.

A.J. Dillon: On National Signing Day in February, BC flipped four-star running back A.J. Dillon from Michigan in a rare recruiting coup for head coach Steve Addazio. Since becoming the starter, Dillon and the Eagles have defied expectations, winning five of their last six games. Dillon has led that charge, especially in BC’s win over Florida State in the fourth-annual Red Bandanna Game—the first home ACC football win for the senior class. Dillon’s performance—1,432 yards and 13 touchdowns—won him the ACC’s Rookie of the Year award. Read our feature on Dillon from this year’s football preview.

Against the odds: Men’s basketball has rounded out 2017 with its best win streak in five years, and the most memorable moment by far was its upset of No. 1 Duke at home, BC’s third win in a row over an AP No. 1 team. And they’ve done it without the injured Teddy Hawkins, whose upbringing in Dayton, Ohio, we explored in this year’s basketball preview.

Back in Pinstripes: Football earned a holiday trip to Yankee Stadium for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, the second invitation the Eagles have received in four years. The return trip turned sour in the fourth quarter, however, as injuries in the linebacking corps, careless penalties, and poorly timed turnovers cost BC a win. After such a promising second half of the season and an excellent first two quarters in New York, controversial coaching decisions down the stretch came back to haunt the Eagles.


III. Magazine

Day After Day: In our first annual “Day by Day” issue previewing the Boston Marathon, we profiled six BC students running for different reasons and causes. We talked to students who started running in the foothills of the Alps, volunteered at the Campus School, wanted to set new personal records, and were way too busy to be running a marathon.

Eagle MUNC: We went inside Eagle MUNC, the annual BC Model U.N. conference attended by droves of high schoolers from across the country—650, to be precise. Needless to say, it’s quite the undertaking.

Momentum Awards: Our end-of-spring Momentum Awards this year went to a longtime Student Services staff member, one of the geniuses behind BC’s viral marketing videos, quintessential mid-2010s BC band Juice, two app developers focused on simplifying aspects of the college experience, and students who “soared under the radar.”

Seniors to Watch: In September, we profiled six seniors we think have had a big impact on campus and beyond, including a young entrepreneur, a sexual health advocate, and a future lawyer who experienced discrimination as a kid.

Fish are friends, not food: Ever wonder what happens when a story falls through at the last minute? When in doubt, write about fish.

The Mursday Effect: Joanna Oxford and Rutherford Shireton IV—which are definitely not pseudonyms for two Heights editors—brought us the weird story of how everything changed after that fateful day in 2015 when, due to snow, BC had a Monday class schedule on a Thursday.

No one is safe: In honor of the 10th anniversary of BC’s satirical news source, The New England Classic, we sat in on an editorial meeting. We also featured “Boston College Memes for Jesuit Tweens,” an epic Facebook group focused exclusively on making fun of all things BC.


IV. Arts

A fond farewell: We sat in on a rehearsal for The Book of Carney, a satirical musical and sort-of senior thesis by Anthony Perasso, BC ’17, who skewered BC’s founding with the completely untrue (but highly relevant) tale of Sister Margaret Carney.

Showdown: In April, Heights editors spent a week lugging filming equipment around campus to get footage of BC’s dance groups as they prepared for the annual Showdown competition in Conte Forum. This fall, we reported on how many of these groups lack adequate practice space, resulting in nightmarish schedules and a mad dash to prepare for shows and competitions.

Behind the scenes: We featured Hollywood Eagles, the ambitious production club whose credits include campus phenomenon “Mod of Cards,” and took a look at how tech crews for shows put on at Robsham Theater operate behind the curtain.

Great News: At Artsfest 2017, Tracey Wigfield, BC ’05, talked about her career as a writer on 30 Rock and The Mindy Project, as well as her NBC sitcom Great News, which premiered in April.

Three acts: In February, EDM mystery man Marshmello performed at Plexapalooza. After much speculation, Louis the Child performed at Modstock in May, and Nico & Vinz hit Stokes Lawn in September for the second-annual Stokes Set.

Pops on the Heights: The 25th-annual Pops on the Heights gala raised a record $14 million for scholarships at BC, and Jennifer Hudson helped by bringing down the house, along with John Williams, who stepped in to conduct the Pops in some of his most famous scores. But Chris Cheeseman, CSOM ’20, stole the show with his rendition of “The Impossible Dream.” We talked to him about the experience and his own dreams.

25 years of service: John Finney, the director of the University Chorale of BC and conductor of the BC Symphony Orchestra, is in his 25th year of serving the arts at BC. Ahead of the Christmas Chorale concert, we talked to him about his dual roles.


Metro

V. Metro

Birthplace of the Revolution: This year was full of protests and rallies in Boston. We were there for a lot of them, from the Women’s March in January, to a march for science, a joint Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren rally, and the August free speech rally and counterprotest.

Mayoral elections: Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, BC ’09, was re-elected in November over Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson. In Newton, Ruthanne Fuller was elected to replace outgoing mayor Setti Warren, BC ’93.

Startup City: Our annual Startup Issue highlighted a plant-based meal delivery service, a former BC football lineman who’s making learning plays easier, and a student startup that merges fashion and social justice.

Food Guide 2017: And finally, our 2017 Food Guide focused on breakfast. We featured two diners, a creperie, a dim sum joint, a brunch place, and a Turkish delight with lines out the door.

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