To Concerned Members of the Boston College Community:
Many of you have already heard about the issue of censorship on Boston College's campus as it relates to The Global Justice Project. In case you have not, we have provided a history of events. Also, this letter ends asking you to show solidarity with this effort.
Two summers ago, concerned members of the Boston College community met with the Career Center to ask them to "uninvite" Raytheon, a leading weapons manufacturer, to the Career Fair. These students saw a direct conflict between the presence of Raytheon and BC's Jesuit mission. The Career Center informed the students that it was too late to "uninvite" Raytheon. Last September, a small group of students demonstrated against the presence of Raytheon. The group acted without permission and without telling the administration in advance. As a result, two students faced disciplinary action from the university. Students continued talks with the Career Center, again requesting that Raytheon be "uninvited." After several meetings, students were told that ultimately it was not the decision of the Career Center and that Boston College has a "very good relationship" with Raytheon.
This year, the Global Justice Project felt that it would be in the best interest of everyone to try and reach some type of prior agreement with administrators with regard to demonstrating against Raytheon at the Career Fair. After many meetings between members of GJP, Dean Sherwood, BCPD Chief Morse, and Theresa Harrigan of the Career Center, an agreement was reached and a permit was issued for a demonstration. It is important to note that the purpose of a protest permit issued by Boston College is to agree on logistcs, not content. Details of the protest were not discussed during the meeting between Dean Sherwood and two members of GJP. All parties agreed to allow GJP to have a table on the concourse inside Conte Forum where up to 15 people would be allowed to be present, participating in some sort of "visual display and passing out of literature." In addition, 2 people were allowed to pray in front of the actual Raytheon table. The whole demonstration would be conducted in silence.
About 10 members of GJP spent many, many hours and their own personal resources to prepare a symbolic and very poignant display, all within the boundaries of the permit that was issued to them. The group created a spoof Raytheon table where 3 "Raytheon workers" would work dilligently to assemble a "missile" and to do paperwork. In front of this table, members of the GJP would recreate a bomb scene, complete with bodies and debris. In a prominent position on the table would be a sign reading, "setting the world aflame," in reference to the saying of St. Ignatius Loyola that we at BC are all familiar with. The attempt of this demonstration would have been to have people, particularly students who saw the display, start thinking about what it really means for us to be "setting the world aflame," the moral implications of our career choices, and if the presence of companies like Raytheon on campus is consistent with Jesuit teachings.
As the demonstration approached, a press release was sent to The Heights, The Boston Globe, and The Boston Phoenix about the action. This release mysteriously landed in the hands of Chief Morse, who brought it to Dean Sherwood. After reading that GJP had planned a "theatrical display" (as was stated in the press release), Dean Sherwood revoked GJP's protest permit in its entirety, only fifteen minutes prior to the Career Fair, claiming that GJP had "actively deceived" him--even though the planned demonstration was all within the limits set in the permit. He refused to negotiate any part of his decision, and went as far as refusing to allow the mere distribution of educational fliers. Not only did Dean Sherwood pull this permit, but he waved suspension forms in front of GJP members, as he threatened immediate suspension for anyone who decided to demonstrate anywhere in the vicinity of the Career Fair. He continued to say that the number of protest permits allowed this year were to decrease drastically (from the four the were given last year) as a result of orders from higher authorities, and that students could "quote [him]" saying he would not give protest permits to GJP for the rest of the year.
The Global Justice Project was censored on Thursday and feels that the administration has set a dangerous precedent in doing so. We feel that it is important for students to be able to peacefully demonstrate, and that it is consistent with the University's claim of wanting to "promote dialogue" and a diversity of opinions on campus. If the University requires students who want to demonstrate to obtain a protest permit in advance, then the administration must be willing to provide actual permits to students who comply with this process. We also feel that it is NOT the place of ODSD or the administration to be censoring the content of demonstrations.
In response to this censoring, concerned members of the community plan to pass out patches to show solidarity on this issue. This will occur tomorrow, Tuesday, September 26th at 10:15AM on O'Neill plaza. Keeping with the wishes of the adminstration, we are not planning a demonstration or protest of any kind. We are only there to distribute material. As members of the student body, we appeal for your support, as we hope you recognize the importance of the right to exercise student voices. Please join us, so we can together send a clear message to University.
Please send this email to your friends, any listservs you are on, or any professors that you think will support this cause. Also, we feel it necessary to keep the momentum of the event going. If you feel strongly about this issue, please write an editorial for The Heights or send a letter to the appropriate administrators. We and other members of the Boston College community are in the proccess of planning a panel or forum for next week to discuss free speech and censorship. We will keep you posted
Specifically to the members of BC NLG and BC faculty, we would greatly appreciate your involvement in our panel. Respond to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
Thank you for your support,
The Global Justice Project