Harassment cases revive worries of racism at Boston College

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Students walk past Black History Month posters on the Boston College campus, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Boston. Harassment by white male students targeting Black and Latina women housed in a Boston College dormitory has revived concerns about racism on campus. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

BOSTON – Students are demanding a stronger response from Boston College after two recent cases in which white students were accused of harassing Black and Hispanic students in a campus dorm.

The incidents, which took place three days apart, have revived longstanding concerns about racism on a campus where most students are white and just 4% are Black. Some students say the recent cases are part of a pattern of bias that seems to be tolerated at the Jesuit Catholic school.

“We have been dealing with this since our freshman year,” said senior Kathryn Destin, 20, who is Black and a member of a campus anti-racist group called FACES. “I’ve sort of lost that sense of safety.”

Both recent incidents took place in a stretch of dorm hallway that mostly houses Black and Hispanic women. Known as the Multicultural Learning Experience, it’s part of program intended to foster diversity on campus. Men in the program are housed in a different area of the dorm.

Residents of the hall say they were awakened by an eruption of noise Jan. 30 as rows of trashcans lining the hall were upended and tossed around. Litter was left scattered everywhere. Farther down the hallway, past the end of the multicultural section, trash bins were left untouched.

Three days later, students reported that two white, male students walked down the hall singing about “colored girls.” A staff member was notified and found the two men, but they denied using the language, officials said.

The hall’s residents say it follows other cases in which they have been threatened or harassed by white students this school year.

College officials said they’re responding to “several incidents” of alleged student misconduct in the hall last month. They have identified and disciplined two students found responsible for the Jan. 30 vandalism, said Jack Dunn, a college spokesperson. Officials declined to disclose the discipline, citing privacy laws.