Conversations that Matter: Who Belongs at BC? The Class of 2019 Discusses Race, Class, and Community at Boston College

Gasson Hall

Kerry Cronin
Boston College

Barbara Quinn, R.S.C.J.
Boston College School of Theology and Ministry 

Date: November 15, 2018

An event for Boston College Senior Undergraduates only.

Event Flyer


Kerry Cronin and Barbara Quinn, R.S.C.J., will moderate a panel of BC senior undergraduate students around the theme, "Who Belongs at BC?" The discussion will focus on student experiences with issues of race and class over all four years at Boston College, and will touch upon questions of belonging, privilege, and community. Light refreshments will be served. 

Speaker Bios

Kerry Cronin

Kerry Cronin is the associate director of the Lonergan Institute and philosophy department fellow at Boston College. She earned her B.A. and M.A. in Philosophy from Boston College. For the past eighteen years, she has taught in Boston College’s interdisciplinary Perspectives Program (offering courses in the “Great Books” tradition). Additionally, she works extensively with undergraduates in retreat programs and is a regular speaker on college campuses, addressing topics of student culture and formation, notably relationships and dating. 

Barbara Quinn, R.S.C.J.

Barbara Quinn, R.S.C.J., is the associate director of spiritual formation at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, and a sister in the Society of the Sacred Heart. Prior to coming to Boston, Quinn served as the director of the Center for Christian Spirituality at the University of San Diego. Her ministries have included spiritual direction and retreats, teaching at the college and graduate level, lay leadership training, formation work, and administration. 

Event Photos

Boisi event

Boisi Center undergraduate research fellow Jorge Mejía asks the panel a question.

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BC senior undergraduate student Anthony Smith shares his story.

Boisi event

Moderator Barb Quinn, R.S.C.J., makes introductions as (from right to left) Ryan Reichert, Rachel Lim, Anthony Smith, and Soyun Chang look on.

Boisi event

Moderator Kerry Cronin. (Photos by MTS Photography)

Event Recap

On Thursday, November 15th, 2018 the Boisi Center hosted its inaugural installment of a series of conversations on belonging at BC. Moderated by Kerry Cronin (Boston College) and Barbara Quinn, R.S.C.J. (Boston College STM), a student panel featuring Soyun Chang, Rachel Lim, Ryan Reichert, and Anthony Smith reflected on their experiences of race and class over their time at Boston College.

After offering individual stories, the students addressed the archetype of the Boston College student: monolithic with respect to socioeconomic status and racial background. Nonconformity with this archetype, panelists commented, produced feelings of exclusion, while also instilling a sense of action-oriented consciousness to engage advocacy efforts on campus.

Following the panelists’ remarks, Cronin and Quinn engaged the all-senior audience about their own questions and experiences of race and class at BC. Some students questioned the relative primacy of class versus race as the dominant sociological force in the undergraduate experience. Students also brainstormed ways that Boston College could cultivate change and a culture of awareness. This imperative is also an individual one: students must continue to educate themselves on these matters in order to start having “conversations that matter.” The seniors who attended voiced that this was one of the first spaces during their time at BC open to engaging the difficult conversations and questions rather than skirting around the issues. Hopefully it will be a first of many.

Read More


Jehangir, Rashné Rustom, and Palgrave Connect. Higher Education and First-Generation Students Cultivating Community, Voice, and Place for the New Majority. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Strayhorn, Terrell L. College Students' Sense of Belonging: A Key to Educational Success for All Students. New York, NY: Routledge, 2012.


Fischer, E. "Settling into Campus life: Differences by Race/Ethnicity in College Involvement and Outcomes." The Journal of Higher Education 78, no. 2 (2007): 125-161.

Goldman, Jack and Owen Fahy. “Over 100 Students ‘Die-In’ on Anniversary of March.” The Heights, October 22, 2018,

Hurtado, Sylvia, and Deborah Faye Carter. "Effects of College Transition and Perceptions of the Campus Racial Climate on Latino College Students' Sense of Belonging." Sociology of Education (1997): 324-345.

Johnson, Dawn et al. “Examining Sense of Belonging among First-year Undergraduates from Different Racial/Ethnic Groups." Journal of College Student Development 48, no. 5 (2007): 525-542.

Other Resources

The Montserrat Office at Boston College, an initiative under University Mission and Ministry, aims to assist students at the highest level of financial need to actively participate in and experience a Jesuit education.

The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program (McNair Program) is a graduate school preparation program for Boston College undergraduates who are both low-income and first-generation college participants and/or under-represented.

The Learning to Learn Office at Boston College seeks to support low-income, under represented, first generation college students, and students with disabilities to excel academically. Its program offerings include: College Transition Program (CTP), DIOP (Dedicated Intellectuals of the People), among others. 

In the News

In October, Boston College’s independent student newspaper The Heights reported on a “die-in” protest held on campus. The protest, which occurred two days before the anniversary of the “Silence is Still Violence” march which drew thousands, was organized by the Black Eagles in order to recognize the issues of race on this campus that are still unresolved.