Friday, January 11, 2013

Kristin Wodarski On Her Boston College Experience

Boston College is the largest residential Jesuit institution in the world. Although the Jesuits have a reputation as progressive educators, being at a Jesuit institution does mean that there are things you cannot do here.
After New York University, with its University- recognized bo.ndage club, this was a different world for me. We don’t distribute condoms here. There are no sexual health workshops, and the role of LGBT allies on campus is still being defined by the administration.
It is discussed, though, and many administrators and RAs choose to display Safe Zone stickers on their doors. While some students here may support pro-choice, the campus is decidedly pro-life. The Vagina Monologues is performed on campus- sponsored by academic departments- and the conservative student newspaper challenged the morality and appropriateness of its presence. And yes, cohabitation on campus carries a judicial sanction.
Everything about how students conduct themselves, and what we administrators role model to our students, must be in line with the mission and philosophy of the Jesuit Catholic ideals. Is BC intolerant? Not at all. The students are accepting, and they want to learn from each other. There just aren’t that many individualists moving against the grain from this tight-knit community, making grand statements about who they are and what they stand for. The khaki-skirt, polo-shirt with the collar flipped up, ribbon in the hair BC student would have qualified as unique at NYU because she would have been the only one. Here, it’s what the campus looks like on any given day by casting a glance over the dining hall. The students are polished, and beautiful, but they look… the same.
This is not the Stepford Campus. We enjoy a growing diversity both ethnically and geographically, and BC students are interested in a variety of arenas, both academically and personally. I had a hackie-sac playing Colorado girl who never wore shoes. I had a good old Southern Gentleman who hung a confederate flag. But I didn’t have any individualists. I feel their absence, not only in my own opportunities to interact with them, but also through the way their absence affects the students I do have. My students now have fewer interactions with people who expose them to ideas and identities different from their own. There are fewer times when they have to practice tolerance about beliefs they may not agree with or even understand. They do not have to go out of their comfort zone as much as the NYU freshman who needs to learn what “transgender” means, or try to understand why a student would be participating in a vigil for Tibet.
Do we have LGBT students at BC? Sure we do, along with socialists, feminists, atheists, social justice activists, and vegans. But they are not as visible, or vocal, here, so the BC student community is not necessarily forced to learn about, or even interact with, such different populations.
I’m sorry for them, as I miss my beloved eccentrics who brought me much joy and satisfaction in my work at NYU. But more importantly, I am sorry for my students here who are growing up without the characters, without the individualists, as they are missing the opportunity to experience and be challenged by a world profoundly different from what walks the tree-lined paths of our Chestnut Hill campus

Link (here) to read the full article by former Boston College Resident Adviser Kristin Wodarski-Biggins

1 comment:

kiki said...

socialists, feminists, atheists, social justice activists, and vegans are all people Jesus would embrace