During the evening of Nov. 9 in Gasson and Stokes Halls, three fires were set and they continue to affect students and faculty on campus. Emails were sent to students alerting them of the situation, urging them to be safe, and asking for any relevant information. Reports from the police have confirmed that they were set soon after 9:30pm but were quickly extinguished and caused no injuries.
The damaged areas were emptied, thus forcing professors to move classes, clear out offices, and replace items. The faculty and graduate students affected by the fires noted how accommodating Boston College was throughout the whole incident.
Books and materials destroyed are in the process of being substituted by the university and professors were given as much assistance as possible during the brief transition period. BC has even hired cleaning firms to ensure a quick and effective cleanup. “If you walked around the building today, you’d never know anything had happened,” said Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn.
The incident seemed to pass extremely quickly with BC looking to repair the smoke and water damage and have the offices and classrooms fully functioning again. Some students were not even aware of what had happened. The way that the situation was dealt with suggests that this was not an extremely serious issue.
However, as the Boston Globe reports, the fires left some officials and officers curious and a bit cautious moving forward as “authorities believe that [the] three small fires were set intentionally." Despite the efficient cleanup and handling of the fire, officers now need to raise a few more questions if the incidents were, in fact, incidents of arson. As police chief John King stated, the fires were “suspicious in nature.”
What this entails for Boston College students is that we remain cautious and adhere to BC’s standard fire safety measures. However, the suspicion surrounding the situation has caused a bit of a stir among students. The intention and the location of the fires have led students to theorize that there were anti-religious motives for the arson.
The fourth floor of Stokes North, where the fire was set, is home to the Theology department and rumors have spread that the fire in Gasson Hall started in the Chapel (regardless, Gasson does include many religious symbols, statues, and murals). Boston College, as an institution, prides itself both on its Jesuit Catholic foundation and its tolerance of and openness to a myriad of beliefs, ideologies and religious principles.
While the rumors among students are just theories, the facts are that the fires do appear to be intentional and that BCPD will be investigating the incident and looking to make sure that students remain safe. Boston College reacted swiftly and, as many professors have noted, have dealt with the situation in an efficient way. Students and faculty alike are relieved that despite the “suspicious nature” of the fire, no one was injured and the buildings did not sustain any lasting damage.Images via Alex Krowiak/Gavel Media.