The Students Have Spoken
We are all undergraduate students of Boston College. We are freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. And we know what we did when we voted “Yes” on the UGBC referendum. We asked the university to support people of all sexual orientations on campus in the most inclusive way possible: by adding “sexual orientation” to BC’s non-discrimination clause.
As the Notice of Non-Discrimination reads right now, sexual orientation is mentioned in a separate sentence regarding equal opportunity, but not listed as a basis for non-discrimination in employment, housing, or education. Assuring members of the BC community equal opportunity is absolutely essential. But opportunity is only one element of discrimination, and the current policy is only a half-measured protection. Maintaining this ‘separate but equal’ stance is not sufficient. It is a blatant indication that Boston College is willing to marginalize and discriminate against a person or group of people for legal, financial, and logistical reasons on the basis of their sexual orientations.
This is not meant to encourage the creation of a running laundry list of characteristics to add to the clause. No one expects the non-discrimination clause to cover every aspect of a person’s identity. Furthermore, no one taking part in the movement is asking to be defined by his or her sexual orientation. But it is common knowledge that gays and lesbians have, like religious and racial minorities, been subjected to bigotry and intolerance. So, because sexual orientation is a trait that has been, and is, targeted in today’s society, it would be prudent and appropriate for the university to safeguard every member of the community from any and all discrimination that may occur on those grounds by fully including it in the non-discrimination sentence. An “in addition” is simply not enough.
The resolve of the students in this movement is robust, and it is growing stronger. For the last two months of this academic year, many of us will be giving our time and energies to help create campus-wide and local awareness, educated students and faculty about the inherent inequality and injustice of the status-quo. Ultimately, adding two words to a sentence in the non-discrimination clause is more than just some peer editing of the university handbook. It is a declaration and verification that gays and lesbians – our family, friends, teachers, and peers – stand under the same umbrella as the rest of the BC community. And we stand with them.
True inclusion may not be achieved for some time. That is something only the cultural zeitgeist of our era can determine, and something that will most likely be met with tolerance gradually. But the assurance that one’s sexual orientation is not a factor in the university’s decisions is certainly a foundation for eventual acceptance.
On March 1, 3402 of us said ‘Yes.’ Yes? put sexual orientation in the non-discrimination clause of the university’s policy. Yes? affirm that Boston College is a place where one’s humanity is celebrated above all.
Front Page (March 31, 2005)
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