UPDATE, Sept. 16, 5:07 p.m.: While CJBC was approved as a registered student organization, OSI Director Gus Burkett confirms that the organization is on "probationary status" for the remainder of the 2015-2016 school year. This won't have an impact on the organization's day-to-day operations.
"As long as they follow University policy and guidelines, and that they are respectful of students, faculty, and staff, they will be allowed to function as any other student organization," Burkett said. "I will be working closely with them to ensure they understand policies and to help them through the process."
Climate Justice at Boston College (CJBC) received final approval to become a registered student organization on Monday after a drawn-out, multi-year effort of trying to gain recognition from the Office of Student Involvement (OSI).
“We applied [to be an] RSO twice in the past and I was a part of those two applications, but this time around everything went much smoother," Delia Ridge Creamer, MCAS '16 and CJBC co-president said in an email. "They were supportive and helpful in the meetings we had with them, and it has been great to form stronger relationships with members of the administration."
Representatives from CJBC have worked with OSI throughout the spring semester and summer months to make registration a possibility for this academic year. Co-presidents Delia Ridge Creamer, MCAS ‘16, and Cara McPhillips, LSOE ‘16, as well as Elisa Tedeschi, MCAS ‘17, have worked with Gus Burkett, Director of OSI, and Jean Yoder, Associate Director of Leadership and Development, to come to an agreement that would allow CJBC rights as a student organization.
Formerly known as BC Fossil Free, CJBC has been a leading advocacy group on campus, promoting the divestment of BC’s endowment from fossil fuel companies and investments that support them. Operating as an unrecognized group, students have promoted membership by sharing table space with EcoPledge at the Student Activities Fair for the past three years, networking through the Social Justice Coalition and holding protests and rallies on campus.
Partaking in some of these events as an unregistered organization put CJBC in a precarious position right from the start, including entering this academic year with a probationary status. However, Ridge Creamer believes that the risk paid off.
“It's definitely a step in the right direction and we're hoping to keep building the momentum and student power we built last semester,” she said.
McPhillips expressed similar sentiments of renewed faith in working with OSI. “Though CJBC does not have a great history regarding our relationship with the administration, we are absolutely starting off on the right foot with them this year,” she said. “I think that OSI has accepted that our group is full of strong-minded, passionate people and we are not going anywhere.”
As an RSO, CJBC will be allowed to officially book rooms on campus to host meetings, post flyers promoting events as approved by OSI and host large-scale events on campus that will not come with possible disciplinary action.
“This year we look forward to continuing the open and communicative relationship that we currently have with OSI and the administration,” said McPhillips. “We would much rather hold ‘legal’ demonstrations and marches with approved permits and not have to worry about the consequences of holding non-permitted events.”
Elisa Tedeschi, MCAS '16, added that working with the administration will allow CJBC to do more towards its mission rather than being limited by working within the administration's guidelines. "We can do so much more with that partnership [with the administration] . . . working within their guidelines and having them understand what we’re trying to do at the same time," she said.
Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) President Thomas Napoli, MCAS ‘16, expressed his own excitement for CJBC’s newly approved status as well. “I am hopeful that this marks the beginning of the end of a long-standing ‘CJBC versus the administration’ paradigm,” he said.
Napoli also acknowledged that the RSO status will allow CJBC to get back to working on what it truly cares about: climate justice.
“CJBC will now be able to focus wholly on addressing climate change and our place in stopping it as opposed to University policy," he said."I look forward to their programs and advocacy work and applaud the administration for finally protecting CJBC's ability to talk about this important matter."
CORRECTION: We previously reported that CJBC will participate in BC's upcoming climate justice conference, entitled "Our Common Home: An Ethical Summons to Tackle Climate Change" -- this is not true. The student organization will not participate in that conference, and will also not participate in the "What Can I Do?" fair.