I have received an out-pouring of responses from students, alumni, and faculty in the short time since the BC Asian American Studies Program released its statement on the St. Mary’s protest. I want to share one response in particular from an alumna. I found it moving, and also frustrating because it speaks to something ingrained about BC as an institution. I’ve taught at this school for a long time, and there’s much I truly admire and respect about it. But if we want to improve the school, we must be willing to address its shortcomings more directly.
The email is below. I made a few light edits, and left the author of the email anonymous.
Dear Professor Song,
I took several classes with you while I was a student at BC (A&S ’09), and I am writing to say thank you for making a statement on behalf of the BC Asian American Studies program in support of the students involved in the St. Mary’s protest. I was so disappointed and discouraged to hear the response and call for disciplinary action by the BC administration. It brought me back to memories of an unsupportive, and at times hostile, administration during student efforts at raising awareness and bringing forth important dialogues on campus. There are several examples that come to mind, particularly with respect to the cancellation of the LGBT Gala, the seeming reluctance of the administration to move forward on amending the hate crime policy, and the orders to cease efforts to promote sexual health education, awareness, and protection by students on a campus that fails its students in this regard. It can already feel difficult as a student to bring up uncomfortable, and at times unpopular, topics among classmates, and this difficulty is only magnified when the administration uses its considerable power to threaten disciplinary action. I am so encouraged that there has been a showing of support from the African and African Diaspora Studies Program and the Asian American Studies Program and their respective faculty members, because of your standing as scholars of the university, and because of your position of privilege and clout.
Currently, I am a medical student at Tufts University. We staged our own die-in recently to express our solidarity as future healthcare professionals, and to highlight racial injustice and inequity as a public health issue with devastating consequences. We initially did not hear back from our administration prior to the events when we announced our efforts, and, given my past experiences, I assumed that the administration might be less than enthused with our demonstration. Instead, we were greeted with a show of support by the deans who were waiting for us at our planned location, among them the Dean of the Medical School. This was such an encouraging moment, and it was made more poignant by my expectation that we would be asked to justify our actions by those in the highest positions of power at our school, as so often seems to be the case at BC. I am disappointed that the peaceful efforts of BC students are being met with such a strong negative reaction, and I hope that this does not dampen or dissuade future efforts at truly being men and women for others, in ways that go beyond individual acts of service, which is so often championed at BC.
I am so thankful for the efforts of any and all who are working to bolster the work of these students, and further, show their commitment to free and honest dialogue without the stipulation of seeking university approval (a mechanism that censors and stunts dialogue).