Speak, Stand, Sit or Scream
boisi center for religion and american public life
On September 28, the Boisi Center hosted Boston College student leaders Craig Ford, Jr., GSAS ‘18, Theology (PhD); Najat Goso, MCAS ‘18, Communications; Isra Hussain, MCAS ‘17, Psychology; and Russell Simons, MCAS ‘17, Biology. The talk was organized in a town hall format to encourage audience participation and was moderated by Boisi Center interim director, Erik Owens.
Panelists praised Boston College’s Jesuit values and culture of social justice, but lamented that many students’ experiences at BC includes only transient commitments to service and community engagement. They felt that, in practice, there is a clash between Jesuit- and BC-inculcated values and the values students embody in their personal life. Hussain pointed to the difficulty of being “men and women for others” in everyday life. Goso also spoke about the importance of moving beyond the insular “BC bubble” and engaging the larger community and world.
Simons pointed out that in order to have real, honest conversation you have to engage with other people in ways that make you uncomfortable, and people generally don’t like to be uncomfortable. Conversations like this need to happen in small groups for empathy to grow. Ford called on the administration and student body to examine the “structurally disadvantaging forces” that face people of color, the LGTBQ community, and women. We need to have “brave and awkward” conversations about white supremacy, heterosexism, and sexism. Ford also spoke about socioeconomic inequality on campus.
Panelists also discussed the prevalence of complacency on campus, and an overall lack of civic engagement. Goso noted that only a small fraction of the student body is receptive to many clubs’ and organizations’ messages, and that this group tends to be comprised mainly of students of color.