add_theme_support( 'post-thumbnails' );Climate Justice Boston College Off Probation, Continuing to Advocate for Divestment - BANG.
Photo courtesy of Cece Durcan

Climate Justice Boston College Off Probation, Continuing to Advocate for Divestment

After a year-long, controversial period of probation, Climate Justice Boston College (CJBC) is free to resume its regular activities as of March 1. 

The probation was sparked by an incident at CJBC’s annual Break Up With Fossil Fuels event to celebrate Fossil Fuel Divestment Day. CJBC, as they had done for several years prior, invited students to write paper valentines to send to BC President Father William P. Leahy, requesting that BC divest from the fossil fuel industry. 

Cece Durcan, MCAS ’23 and CJBC president, noted that the executive board of the club did not screen the valentines before delivering them. Three or four valentines contained “crude language,” as Durcan put it. Even after an apology letter from CJBC, the administration decided to place the club on probation for one year. 

The specific conditions of the club’s probation were that they were not allowed to hold the Break Up With Fossil Fuels event this year, and they were required to meet with their advisor in the Office of Student Involvement (OSI) more frequently to discuss what they planned to do during the semester, as well as meet before events. 

CJBC was still allowed to hold its regular weekly meetings and otherwise operate as they always had, which Durcan said students often had misconceptions about. Other student groups were often hesitant to collaborate with CJBC. Durcan said she fielded questions like “‘Aren’t you guys on probation? Are we going to get in trouble for working with you?’” that hindered cooperation. “It just required extra communication with student clubs,” she said. 

The other consequence of being on probation was the increased stress that another incident would result in further action against the club. “We knew we kind of like, had a strike on us,” Durcan said. “We felt like we had to be a bit more cautious about what we were saying, who we were critiquing, because we were worried about saying something that would upset the administration in some way.”

Durcan said this altered the way she approached her leadership of CJBC: “It wasn’t censorship, but it felt like self-censorship.” 

Even while on probation, Durcan said she was proud of her fellow members and herself for keeping morale high and largely carrying on as usual. In the past year, CJBC has also had important and reflective conversations about the importance of the work they do. 

“That has always been my experience [in CJBC],” Durcan said. “In activism, in order for it to work, everybody needs to have discussions about why we're doing what we're doing, what values we share, why we believe in climate justice, why we think it's a social justice issue, why we think it's a racial justice issue.”

Although events for the rest of the semester have not yet been publicized, Durcan hinted at an exciting speaker from another Jesuit university, and a collaboration with FACES Council, BC’s anti-racism organization, about environmental racism.

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English and communication major. WZBC 90.3 FM DJ. Lover of the Midwest, reading, and attempting to be outdoorsy.

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