December 10, 2018
Dear Members of the Boston College Faculty:
As I expect many of you now know, early Sunday morning a Boston College undergraduate student was arrested for a series of disturbing incidents that have caused much pain and consternation and are provoking widespread introspection within the BC Community.
After having discharged a fire extinguisher in Walsh Hall, the student proceeded to Welch Hall where he scrawled several explicitly racist epithets in a common area and bathroom. Two BC police officers, who investigated this hate crime and attempted to confront him in his room, were subsequently assaulted by the student.
The student was arrested and brought to a local hospital for observation. Given the severity of his actions, administrators in Student Affairs quickly issued a summary suspension that bans the student from the BC campus. He faces criminal charges in both Boston and Newton courts, and expulsion from the University.
I join with my faculty colleagues and students across the campus in voicing outrage over this incident, which strikes at the heart of our shared values and who we are as a community. Our outrage is compounded by the fact that the incident occurred a little more than a year after the University dismissed a student who had posted a horrifically racist social media post during a weekend when several Black Lives Matter posters were removed from doors in student residences.
In the aftermath of these 2017 incidents, I attended a series of meetings between student leaders and senior administrators to discuss these acts and consider ways to improve the campus environment for all students. As a result of these meetings, we introduced a mandatory student learning module on diversity and inclusion, and agreed to conduct the University’s first-ever Student Experience Survey. We also agreed to redouble our longstanding commitment to hire a diverse faculty, and to review opportunities through Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Mission and Ministry and Human Resources to strengthen diversity and inclusion efforts that enhance the culture of care and welcome at Boston College. Lastly, we agreed to continue to meet with student leaders to work together to address our shortcomings and create a community that lives up to our professed ideals.
This disturbing incident early Sunday morning reminds us that we have much as a community still to do.
On this final day of classes, and as we head toward final exams, I encourage you to reassert the high expectations we hold for our students and to remind them that hate in any form has no place in our community. I ask you to be attentive to the needs of students, particularly our students of color, who may well have been traumatized by this experience and to be sensitive to their requests for accommodations. While counsellors are available in the Office of University Counseling, I see the benefit of outreach from faculty in assuring our students that these actions will never be tolerated at Boston College and that our commitment to creating a loving, caring, inclusive community—consistent with our Jesuit, Catholic mission—will never be lessened.
As I wrote last year in a letter to faculty, our nation’s original sin—racism—remains a grave threat in 2018. We need to continue to confront this evil, both at local and national levels, and emphatically reject language and actions that seek to deny the humanity of any individual at Boston College.
Provost and Dean of Faculties