Last October, the racist vandalism of a Black Lives Matter sign in Roncalli Hall gave rise to a series of organized demonstrations—from massive student and faculty walkouts calling for action from the Boston College administration to the nationally-televised Silence is STILL Violence Solidarity March that followed. A year later, we are still confronted with acts of hate and discrimination on campus. The Communication Department has recently and repeatedly experienced the anonymous removal of Black Lives Matter posters and other signs of solidarity and political activism from their office doors.
Located in St. Mary’s Hall South, several of the Communication Department’s office doors are adorned with such posters and signage—incidentally, many of them having been saved from last year’s solidarity march—just as one would find in many other departments on campus. This past summer, multiple communication professors repeatedly witnessed instances in which such BLM or pro-refugee signage had been removed. The office doors of professors Mike Serazio, Anjali Vats, and Anthony Tran were all subject to this kind of vandalism, with the most recent instance occurring over the Labor Day weekend.
The sporadic timeline of the poster removals makes it difficult to pinpoint a perpetrator, especially considering that most instances took place over the summer. During this time, there are fewer students on campus, and professors alternately leave University grounds for conferences or vacation. Nonetheless, the BC Police Department is currently in the midst of an investigation on the matter.
In the meantime, the Communication Department has issued a statement addressing the racially and politically motivated vandalism. Several professors have printed and posted the statement on their doors as a response:
It has come to our attention that, over the past few weeks, pro-Black Lives Matter and pro-refugee signs posted by Communication faculty members near their offices in St. Mary’s Hall have been removed without permission. The Communication Department unequivocally condemns all forms of discrimination and is dedicated to creating a positive, supportive, and welcoming environment that embraces and celebrates all forms of difference. We support our students in building a learning and living environment that centers on their perspectives, histories, and experiences. Our faculty and staff remain, as always, committed to free speech and diversity, and will continue to work to create an environment in which all students thrive.
Lisa M. Cuklanz, professor and Chair of the Communication Department, spoke with The Gavel last week to accompany the written statement with a more candid conversation. “We want the BC community to know that faculty in this department very much favor free speech and that we strongly support all of our students, whatever their background,” she explained. “We are trying to build a community where all students feel welcomed and supported.”
In addition, communication faculty have followed up by filling the empty door space with more posters. It is clear that these halls promote an atmosphere of acceptance and inclusivity. “I think the best we can do is try to express solidarity when these things happen,” Cuklanz continued. “It’s important to see an act that happens to one person, one door, one dorm, or one office building as an act against the whole community.”
As BC eclipsed the year anniversary of the Silence is STILL Violence Solidarity March on Thursday, hundreds of students participated in a die-in demonstration to reiterate the racism that is still a reality for Black Eagles. This anniversary must serve as an ongoing reminder that it is crucial for the University and its members to continue actively working to eliminate racism and prevent further acts of hate and discrimination, as well as to advocate for a more respectful and supportive BC.