Boston College Is Grilling Student Protesters Again

They face possible discipline after organizing unregulated post-election rallies.
Photo by Margaret Burdge

Photo by Margaret Burdge

Boston College students are getting a stern talking to and could face discipline after administrators raised concerns about unregulated on-campus rallies following the election of Donald Trump.

Four students were ordered to attend hearings on the matter, and three others were asked to attend an informal talk with school leadership amid concerns that those who organized a series of demonstrations at the private Jesuit school’s grounds did so without the permits usually required for such events.

According to the Globe, those students, who collaborate through a grass-roots group called Eradicate Boston College Racism, say they can’t get permits because they aren’t an official on-campus club.  They say it can be challenging to earn official club status, and they say doing so would come with restrictions they don’t want, among them rules tamping down open criticism of the college.

“We fail to understand why so much anger and hostility is directed by Boston College to students simply attempting to mourn as a community and work to protect marginalized groups in the dawn of a Trump presidency,” the group tells Boston in a statement. “We applied and came to be part of the Boston College community because we expected the opposite. These disciplinary threats go against the Catholic values of Boston College—being men and women for others.”

They organized demonstrations in November and December that drew hundreds.

The students could technically face expulsion for their actions, but a college spokesman, Jack Dunn, tells the Globe “that’s not within the realm of possibility for this type of incident.”

In a statement Wednesday evening, Dunn defended the college’s decision to enforce its rules, spelled out in a student guidebook, on public assembly. “The policy of registering demonstrations exists at all colleges and universities in the United States, as well as at government buildings and public parks,” he said. “Unfortunately, a group of BC graduate students has chosen to ignore this policy, which applies equally to all 14,250 BC students. As a result, they were asked to appear at an administrative hearing with the dean of students. We hope these students, who have been admonished by their own faculty for being disrespectful to faculty, staff and fellow students on campus, will choose to use their talents in a more productive manner.”

In 2014, administrators warned students who participated in a “die-in” inside an on-campus building that they could face disciplinary action, for the same reason: no permits.

Since the latest tangle with school leadership, the students have organized a petition-signing campaign “to accept equal responsibility for” the protests, which now has hundreds of signatures.


Spencer Buell Staff Writer at Boston Magazine sbuell@bostonmagazine.com