BC Seniors, Alumni Refuse to Donate Over LGBTQ Issues

"Without the support of institutional policies...students will continue to be afraid to be who they are."

Graduating seniors and alumni at Boston College have issued an open letter to school administrators, expressing their refusal to donate to their alma mater until the school shows greater support for its LGBTQ community.

The letter—written by Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) President Nanci Fiore-Chettiar, Executive Vice President Connor Bourff, and seniors Ben Miyamoto and Sean O’Sullivan—demands a “formally acknowledged resource center for LGBTQ students located on this campus.” Organizers plan to republish the letter every spring until this demand is met.

“Until administrators are allowed to fully and openly express their support as allies, Boston College will continue to send the message that LGBTQ students are not supported, do not matter, and do not belong,” the letter reads.

Fiore-Chettiar believes the school’s policy dictates its culture, and until that policy changes, a culture of ignorance will persist in the Heights. “You hear on every weekend night homophonic and derogatory slurs being thrown around in parties and in conversation,” she says. From the letter:

Without the support of institutional policies, there will continue to be students on this campus who think it is acceptable to use derogatory and homophobic slurs; student groups will continue to be unfairly limited because of their affiliation with the LGBTQ community; alumni will continue to reflect on Boston College as a university that caused pain and does not practice what it preaches; students will continue to fear reactions from their roommates, classmates, professors and peers; students will continue to be afraid to be who they are.

Senior Scott Chamberlain, a campus ministry student leader, says being out at a Catholic university often makes him feel like “an anomaly.”

“At the beginning of my freshman year, I went on a retreat, the purpose of which was to help adjust to college life, where I talked about being gay,” Chamberlain says. “In the weeks after coming back I constantly overheard other students discussing and mocking my sexuality, brazenly pointing at me, or staring in open-mouthed confusion. It culminated in a hall mate staring me in the eye while he told my neighbor that he ‘lived next to a faggot.’ I felt incredibly isolated and did not know of any resources or administrators to turn to for guidance.”

“In general, I think they’re afraid of being fully allied with the students here,” Bourff says of BC administration, while observing “troubling signs of aggression” toward LGBTQ students on campus.

When BC won a bid to host Ignation Q, an educational conference for LGBTQ students at Jesuit universities, student organizers received “a resounding no from the highest levels of administration,” Bourff says.

“When a student went to the office hours of a high-level administrator at BC to discuss difficulties he has had as an LGBTQ student, the response he received was, ‘You came to a Catholic school, what did you expect?’” says Chamberlain.

As of Thursday morning, more than 300 seniors and alumni–even one from the Class of 1964–have cosigned the open letter, with hundreds more undergraduate students’ names withheld until they are seniors, Fiore-Chettiar says. Despite the letter’s demands for change, its authors claim it isn’t intended as a slight to BC.

Please do not mistake our commitment to our convictions as a rejection of Boston College. On the contrary, it is because we believe so greatly in its mission, in its community, and in its future that we are issuing this challenge. As alumni, we will remain connected, we will remain supportive, and we will remain hopeful.

BC spokesperson Jack Dunn provided the following statement via email:

All of us at Boston College love and respect our LGBTQ students and seek to support them however we can. The letter from the leadership of UGBC, released on the last day of their administration regarding an issue they had not formally presented, strikes many on campus as an unproductive gesture that will do little to advance dialog.

Fiore-Chettiar says she remains hopeful for what she believes are more attainable goals in the short-term, including the formation of a committee comprising administrators, faculty, and students to discuss support for LGBTQ students, as well as getting a full-time member of faculty working on LGBTQ support.

“For years, we’ve been in conversations with admins about immediate steps…and a lot of times administration will say that’s a good idea, but none will take any action,” says senior Andrew Engber, chair of GLBTQ Leadership Council (GLC). “I want to keep the hope up for people here that things are going to happen, but it’s tough.”