Speak, Stand, Sit or Scream? How Young People Engage Politics and the World in 2016

Boisi event

Craig Ford, GSAS '18,  Theology (PhD)
Najat Goso, MCAS '18, Communications
Isra Hussain, MCAS '17, Psychology
Russell Simons, MCAS '17, Biology 

Date: September 28, 2016

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This town hall-style discussion is for the young people on campus to talk about their experience of public life and politics today. Is "millennial" a meaningful term, and does it apply to you? How are you experiencing the toxic political rhetoric of the 2016 presidential campaign, and the polarized national politics more generally? How should students respond to the great tensions in this country over racial justice and identity, economic class, war and peace, student debt, a tight job market, and general anxiety about the future?

Bring your perspective as a Boston College graduate or undergraduate student, and let's talk about civility, dissent, populism, civic anger, civic virtue, Jesuit and Catholic values, and much more!

Speaker Bio

Craig Ford, Jr.

Craig Ford, Jr. is a fourth year doctoral candidate in theological ethics at Boston College. He writes at the intersection of the Catholic moral tradition and queer theory, and his dissertation explores the foundations for a natural law theory that is responsive to interventions made by queer thinkers. Before coming to BC, Craig completed his BA in Philosophy and Theology at the University of Notre Dame, and he earned his Master of Arts in Religion from Yale Divinity School, concentrating in Theological Ethics.


Najat Goso

Najat Goso is a communication major with a concentration in marketing. She grew up in Boston, the youngest of five children in an Ethiopian, Muslim household. She is the co-director of social media for BC's United Front, an umbrella organization for clubs dedicated to serving and representing students with roots in Africa and the African Diaspora. She is also a part of the Mississippi Delta Volunteer Corps, a BC service trip opportunity. One day she hopes to be part of a marketing team for either an NFL or NBA franchise.


Isra Hussain

Isra Hussain is in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, with a major in psychology and a minor in Arabic studies. A native of Rhode Island, Isra has completed extensive research in immigrant and refugee healthcare over the past several years at both Massachusetts General Hospital and Vall d'Hebron Hospital in Spain. She holds leadership positions in GlobeMed at Boston College, the Muslim Students Association, and the International Assistant Program. A Gabelli Presidential Scholar, Isra hopes to pursue a career in global health policy following graduation this May.


Russell Simons

Russell Simons is a senior in the Morrissey College of Arts & Sciences studying biology with a minor in medical humanities, health, and culture. A member of the Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program and an aspiring physician, he currently serves as president of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College and editor-in-chief of The Medical Humanities Journal of Boston College. Russell was born and raised in Larchmont, NY, but has been known to root for the Red Sox on occasion.


Event Photos

Boisi event

Boston College student leaders, (from left to right) Najat Goso MCAS '18, Craig Ford GSAS '18, Isra Hussain MCAS '17 and Russell Simons MCAS '17, joined Boisi Center Interim Director Erik Owens (far left) in a discussion of how young people engage in politics and the issues that face the Boston College community today.

Boisi event
Boisi event
Boisi event

Photos by MTS Photography

Event Recap

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.

Read More


Shafer, Leah. "Civics in Uncivil Times: Facing Down the Challenges of Teaching the 2016 Election, With Resources for Preparing Engaged Citizens." Usable Knowledge: Connecting Research to Practice. September 14, 2016. http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/16/09/civics-uncivil-times. 

Kirchick, James. "Blame Millennials for President Trump." The Daily Beast. September 16, 2016. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/09/16/if-america-elects-a-president-donald-j-trump-blame-millennials.html?via=newsletter&source=Politics

Lampert, Martijn and Sheikh, Haroon. "Millennial Values: What the Young Want Around the World." Foreign Affairs. July 6, 2016. http://fam.ag/2djHsKk

"What College Students Know (and Don't Know) About the World." Council on Foreign Relations. September 13, 2016. http://www.cfr.org/polls-and-opinion-analysis/college-aged-students-know-dont-know-world/p38264

"Youth Voting in the 2016 Primaries." The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. July 27, 2016. http://civicyouth.org/youth-voting-in-the-2016-primaries/

In the News

Check out the coverage of the Speak, Stand, Sit or Scream event in Boston College's  Heights and Gavel.

According to an August 2016 report published by the Pew Research Center, Millennials and members of Generation X now constitute the majority of eligible voters in the United States, replacing Baby Boomers and those born in prior generations.