Climate Justice at BC (CJBC) has taken up a new strategy in their advocacy: social media. Specifically, they have been commenting on Boston College’s Instagram, @bostoncollege, calling out the administration for refusing to divest from fossil fuel interests.
“Divestment” refers to an institution ending its financial investment in fossil fuel industries. Schools like Georgetown University, Brown University, Middlebury College, University of Massachusetts, and the University of Oxford have committed to divestment. Pope Francis himself has called for Catholic institutions to divest. And yet, BC has made no indication of changing their current position.
The UN has cited 2º Celsius as the maximum global temperature rise above pre-industrial levels that can occur while preventing major climate catastrophe. A 2º rise implies a budget of between 565 and 886 billion gigatons of CO2 emissions. Large fossil fuel companies list about 2,860 billion gigatons of CO2 emissions in their reserves, over five times the proposed global budget. If the UN’s proposed global budget is implemented, which is essential in the fight against climate change, fossil fuel companies are dramatically overvalued. Therefore, it makes financial sense for institutions such as Boston College to divest from these companies sooner rather than later.
Social media is an important platform for CJBC’s campaign to spread awareness about divestment, but they want to emphasize that Instagram advocacy is where activism should start, not end. Most of CJBC’s comments from the past month remain visible. However, the group made a comment on October 18 that did not appear to the public. Initially, they believed that Boston College restricted their account. Boston College has since DMed CJBC apologizing and assuring them that the restriction was unintentional. CJBC has successfully commented on more posts after this incident.
CJBC does not accuse Boston College of censoring their message in this case. However, they firmly believe that, “this specific incident does not negate the fact that Boston College has a history of not listening to the voices of its own students.” Back in June, @bostoncollege removed all @blackatbostoncollege posts from their tagged photos. @blackatbostoncollege, an account dedicated to amplifying the stories and struggles of Boston College’s Black community, read this as, “an effort to silence Black voices and protect their (Boston College’s) image.”
Additionally, CJBC itself has a history of tension with the Boston College administration. In 2012, a group of students formed an unregistered student organization called BC Fossil Free, which claimed they were threatened with disciplinary action for organizing protests and using Boston College’s name. The group ultimately reformed as CJBC, which also faced a long battle before being officially recognized as a student organization.
CJBC emphasizes that, “divestment from fossil fuels is first and foremost a moral issue.” Boston College takes great pride in its value of the common good and dedication to the mantra, “men and women for others.” CJBC vehemently believes that Boston College can never hope to live up to these ideals while funding fossil fuel interests.
With BC’s history of shutting their eyes to student activism, as well as their steadfast refusal to divest, the question must be asked: where do BC’s values truly lie?