Students Share Housing, Social Justice Commitment

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

Sixteen freshmen and their resident assistant in the Medeiros B Residence Hall share not just living quarters, but a commitment to fighting poverty and injustice in the world.

As participants in the Archbishop Oscar Romero Social Activism Program, named for the martyred Salvadoran bishop, the students of the newly formed Social Justice Floor in the Upper Campus residence hall volunteer on community service projects.

The students have helped out at a Cambridge soup kitchen, washed windows at a Brighton convent as part of the Boston College Neighborhood Center's "Days of Service" program, and staged activities for youngsters at the West Roxbury YMCA as part of the City Year program "Serve-a-thon." They also are working with the University Chaplaincy to stage a "Hunger Banquet" to drive home a message on the starkness of poverty worldwide.

Medeiros Social Justice Floor residents include, from left: junior Bryan Head, freshman Keith Maley, Residence Hall Director Stacey Mica and freshman Erin Bric. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
Resident Assistant Bryan Head '00 said he and his charges on the Social Justice Floor aren't do-gooders. "We're no better than anyone else," he said. "We're just regular people trying to make a difference."

Floor resident Erin Bric '02 said she was active in community service as a high school student in Manhattan Beach, Calif., and is happy to have the chance to continue helping others at Boston College.

"I've made some friends I know I'll keep forever," said Bric, who volunteers once a week at the Jackson-Mann Preschool in Allston as a member of the 4Boston service program, and says she hopes to become more active at the Project Manna Soup Kitchen at the Massachusetts Avenue Baptist Church in Cambridge.

Medeiros Residence Hall Director Stacey Mica sees the Romero Program as "fulfilling the Jesuit ideal of being men and women for others," an assessment shared by University Housing Director Robert Capalbo.

"What Archbishop Romero stood for - a commitment to the poor and a belief that every human is a creature of God - is absolutely consistent with what the University considers its core values," said Capalbo.

The 13 women and three men in the Romero program wrote essays in order to be selected for the Social Justice Floor. They have collaborated on a joint mission statement and propose the projects in which the group participates.

While only 16 of 25 freshmen Medeiros B residents are participants in the fledgling program this year, organizers hope to see all rooms on the two floors taken by Romero volunteers next year. Another plan is to have participants in the current freshman cohort move together as upperclassmen to form a similar Social Justice Floor in a Lower Campus residence hall.

The aim is to immerse freshmen in a "culture of service" as soon as they arrive at Boston College, said Head, a coordinator of the Appalachia Volunteers who is planning to make his third trip over spring break to help the poor in the rural South. "It is important that we not only raise awareness of injustice in the world, but also take action where we can," he said.

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