The Heights has compiled the most compelling and important stories of the year at Boston College. Changes were made in the athletic department, students protested on and off campus, and new professors joined the University. Here’s a look back at 2019.
As always, thank you for reading.
Move to Early Decision: After record-setting admissions for the Class of 2023—a 54 percent increase in early applications and 14 percent increase overall—the University replaced its Early Admissions (EA) program with Early Decision (ED). Unlike EA, ED requires applicants to commit to attending BC if they are accepted.
Growth for Computer Science: The computer science department, which has seen an astronomical rise in student participation in recent years, halted entry for all new majors in the fall of 2018, as it was unable to keep up with increased demand. In the past 10 years, the major has seen an increase in students of nearly 800 percent. The department lifted its temporary hold on new majors in January and welcomed five new hires during the year. Professor Howard Straubing also took over as the new department chairman.
Responses to Racist Vandalism: After former student Michael Sorkin vandalized Welch Hall with racist epithets at the end of 2018, 2019 began with BC reeling from yet another high-profile, anti-black racist incident on campus. The Undergraduate Government of Boston College passed a resolution calling for Sorkin’s immediate expulsion and increased funding for student resources. Vice President for Student Affairs Joy Moore, who was then serving in an interim capacity, penned a letter to UGBC in response, rejecting most of the proposals by saying that they were already in existence or were unreasonable. Sorkin accepted a plea deal in October, avoiding a hate crime charge in the process.
Divestment Movement: Climate Justice at Boston College pushed calls for the University to divest from fossil fuels to the forefront of campus conversation. A referendum on UGBC’s presidential election ballot asking whether BC should withhold investments from the fossil fuel industry passed by a margin of 2,005 to 374 votes. The University responded by saying that its stance on divestment had not changed, noting that it does not see divestment as a means through which climate change can be solved. Student groups later held a “Divestment 101” event, during which they outlined how they believed divestment can be effective, and why it is necessary.
“Lies Feminists Tell”: Kristan Hawkins, president of the anti-abortion group Students for Life of America, spoke at BC in March in an event in which she criticized the abortion-rights movement. Students protested outside of the event, and tensions became particularly high during the event’s Q&A portion. Hawkins, who said she agrees with first- and second-wave feminism, said that modern feminism has left her behind with its abortion-rights views. In October, another speaker came to campus to argue the “feminist case against abortion,” but the talk was not met with any protest.
Schiller Construction: BC released the blueprints for the Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society in March, providing insight into what the $150 million center will look like. The building will house 11 classrooms, one 188-seat auditorium, and two “active learning spaces,” in addition to several labs, a café, and a lounge. Construction began over the summer, with completion projected for the fall of 2021. The institute will house a variety of fields—from computer science to global public health to engineering—and administrators hope to turn the center into a space for interdisciplinary learning.
Student Experience Survey Results: More than 2,400 students responded to Boston College’s first-ever Student Experience Survey, which showed that while students generally were positive about their experiences at the University, AHANA+ students, students of high financial need, and LGBTQ+ students consistently gave BC lower ratings on its sense of community and safety than white students, students of low financial need, and non-LGBTQ+ students, respectively.
The Union: Members of the BC Graduate Employees Union (BCGEU-UAW) appeared at a Boston City Council hearing in June to speak about working conditions and unionization efforts at Boston-area universities. The group also won endorsements from several Massachusetts public officials, including Senator Elizabeth Warren and the City Council itself. Meanwhile, the National Labor Relations Board—the federal body in charge of enforcing labor laws—proposed a rule that would designate graduate students “nonemployees,” stripping them of the right to organize.
A Major Step for AADS: The African and African Diaspora Studies program became a major in 2019, 50 years after its predecessor, the Black Studies program, was founded. Previously offered as only a minor, the program features curriculum on the history and culture of African and African-descended peoples across the world through courses in history, sociology, art, literature, and theology.
Higher Sex Offense Reporting: The 2018 campus crime statistics showed that BC had twice as many reported rapes and four times as many reported fondlings per student than its competitive schools’ average. Title IX Coordinator Melinda Stoops noted that one reason for the discrepancy could be the high number of students living on campus, as off-campus reports are not included in the statistics. Still, BC has more reports than schools with similar levels of on-campus housing.
Title IX Lawsuits: A jury awarded an alumnus $102,426.50 in damages after ruling that BC denied him fair process in his 2012 sexual misconduct hearing. The alumnus’s lawsuit alleged that the Dean of Students office improperly interfered through communications with the head of the Administrative Hearing Board. The trial—the first of its kind since the Obama administration reinterpreted Title IX laws to include sexual assault at universities—included testimony from multiple former administrators.
In a separate lawsuit, a federal judge overturned a BC student-athlete’s recent suspension in August, ruling that the single-investigatory model that the University uses in cases of alleged sexual assault was not sufficient. Specifically, the judge equated private universities’ obligation to provide “fair process” with public universities’ requirement of “due process,” which includes an opportunity for “real-time cross-examination” of all parties. In November, the First Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the suspension on the grounds that the federal court “abused its discretion” in estimating where Massachusetts law was headed. The student-athlete has also requested a jury trial.
Charges Against Inyoung You: Former student Inyoung You is currently facing charges of involuntary manslaughter after allegations that she encouraged her boyfriend, Alexander Urtula, BC ’19, to kill himself in May. You, who was recently arraigned after returning to the United States from South Korea, has pled not guilty to the charges and released her final texts with Urtula in which she pleaded with him not to kill himself. Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins has said that these texts do not absolve You of the hundreds of texts in which Rollins said You encouraged Urtula’s suicide.
Alberto Godenzi: Alberto Godenzi, former dean of the School of Social Work and vice provost of Global Engagement, died in October at age 66 after a three-month battle with Leukemia. He was remembered by the numerous people whose lives he touched in his time at BC, particularly for his deep commitment to education and social justice.
Andrew Klavan Protest: The Daily Wire contributor Andrew Klavan, a conservative author, spoke at BC in November at the invitation of the BC Republicans. Klavan has a a history of racist, Islamophobic, sexist, and homophobic comments, and his lecture was met with over 100 students protesting from the hallway outside—so loudly that much of Klavan’s talk could not be heard. Klavan responded to the protest in an episode of his show on The Daily Wire, contending that this was an example of liberals shutting down conservative speakers on college campuses.
Koch Foundation Funding: The political science department is considering a proposal for a new security studies program, titled “New Perspectives on U.S. Grand Strategy and Great Power Politics,” which would be funded by the Charles Koch Foundation. Billionaire chairman Charles Koch’s history of political activism in support of climate change denial, among other things, has come under fire from members of the BC community, drawing protest, consideration of an advisory board for the program, and several letters to the editor to The Heights. While the initial proposal included a five-year joint hire between the political science department and international studies (IS) program, the IS academic advisory board voted not to participate in the program in December.
The year’s most important front pages
To see more issues, take a look at our archives.
Three Straight: Women’s lacrosse had a dominant regular season, going undefeated yet again before reaching tournament play. In the NCAA tourney, though, the Eagles have had less success over recent years. This spring, the Eagles earned the No. 2 seed entering the tournament before defeating Colorado and Princeton to advance to the Final Four, where they defeated heated rival North Carolina. In the title game, though, the Eagles came up short, losing to Maryland in their third straight National Championship loss.
Lasting Legacy: After a years-long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Birdball’s Pete Frates, the face of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and BC ’07, died at age 34. Frates’ legacy still carries on, as his efforts helped to raise awareness and hundreds of millions of dollars for research to find a cure for the disease.
Coaching Changes: 2019 was marked by shifts in the coaching staff across many sports. First, with the departure of former softball head coach Ashley Obrest, a new face joined the Heights in Amy Kvilhaug. Long-time head men’s soccer coach Ed Kelly announced his retirement in November after becoming the winningest coach in program history. Finally, in December, seven-year head coach Steve Addazio was fired after posting a 44-44 record in his tenure. Addazio was later hired by Colorado State to take over the reigns of a suffering program, while Jeff Hafley accepted the head coach position at BC. Offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian was also hired away by Northwestern.
Pro Reunion: Former BC men’s basketball stars Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman met on the hardwood in the NBA at the end of October and have both enjoyed strong seasons. Bowman has made a plethora of starts for the injury-plagued Golden State Warriors, and Robinson is a bench option on one of the NBA’s best teams, the Los Angeles Clippers.
Rising Up the Ranks: An abundance of Eagles heard their names called in professional drafts this year. Southpaw Dan Metzdorf was a fifth-round MLB pick, offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom was picked 14th overall by the Atlanta Falcons, and several incoming hockey players were first-round NHL Draft selections.
Program History: Field hockey had a season for the record books, largely led by freshman phenom Margo Carlin. The Eagles made it to the title game of the ACC championship only to give it up in a heartbreaking loss to North Carolina. Even so, the Eagles entered the NCAA tournament with a head of steam, taking down Louisville in the quarter finals to earn the team’s first-ever Final Four berth. There, the Eagles were tested by UNC yet again, and though they were hungry for revenge, came up just short. Though it didn’t end the way the team had hoped, the season was one for the ages.
Step Beyond: It was a whirlwind end to the year for BC baseball as it wrapped up a 30-plus-win season by winning two games in the ACC tournament for the first time since 2009. The Eagles knocked off Clemson and top-seeded Louisville to advance to the semifinals before falling to North Carolina.
Draft Decision for Dillon: After three years as a powerhouse in BC’s backfield, junior AJ Dillon decided to forgo his final year of eligibility and throw his hat in the ring for the NFL Draft. This season, Dillon led the nation in carries and set program records in both career rushing yards and touchdowns. He also decided to forgo the final game of the season, the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl, as many players who declare for the draft do in order to avoid injury.
Black History Month: At the start of Black History Month, The Heights published “My Presence Here Does Not Mean Anything”—a timeline that chronicles the struggles and successes of black students and faculty at Boston College through past Heights articles. From Casper Augustus Ferguson, BC’s first black student, to the activism that created the Black Studies program to the 2017 Silence is Still Violence March, members of black community at BC have long been fighting for a more inclusive campus.
Following the publication of the timeline, The Heights featured several black alumni who had a profound impact on life in and around BC. Julianne Malveux began attending BC in 1970, the first year women were admitted into the College of Arts and Sciences, and went on to make a name for herself as a writer and professor delivering commentary on race, economics, and politics. Julius Harper wrote a letter to the editor in 1977 about integrating Fenwick Hall. Setti Warren was UGBC’s second black president and Newton’s first black mayor. And Valerie Lewis-Mosley created the acronym AHANA, still used 40 years later, to replace the word “minority” in every office on campus.
New Faces on the Heights: At the beginning of BC’s 2018-19 academic year, the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences welcomed nine new professors. After spending one year at BC, eight of these professors spoke with The Heights about their adjustment to life in Chestnut Hill. The professors included Gregory Fried, who focuses on practical philosophy and its applications to law; Charles Murry, who blends his interest in analysis with sports in his course Economics of Sports; and Jane Cassidy, who inspires her students’ artistic ability in the studio. Teaching in fields that range from physics to geology to media and religion, each of the nine new professors have left their unique imprint on the college.
The Salmanowitz Students: Since 2001, the Jacques Salmanowitz Program for Moral Courage in Documentary and Film has given grants to over 60 students to help them tell stories about wide-ranging social justice topics. Students’ films have covered subjects ranging from a child activist in South Africa to Holocaust memorials in Berlin to an Iraqi-Christian priest who fled to New Zealand after being tortured by ISIS. Though each of their films cover a different subject, every student involved in the program takes the time to immerse themselves in their topic and form relationships with the people they meet.
Marathon Monday Features: Any BC student can attest that Marathon Monday is one of the most electrifying days of the year. In the days surrounding the 2019 Boston Marathon, The Heights featured eight students who took on the monumental task of running the 26.2 miles. During their training, seven of the runners simultaneously raised money for a cause of their choice. Phil McHugh, BC ’19, ran for Tufts Medical Center. Mallie Mikkelsen, BC ’19, ran for the Martin Richard Foundation, named after 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was one of three killed in the Boston Marathon bombings. Even BC’s very own mascot participated in the event: Tommy Mazza, formerly one of the faces behind Baldwin and BC ’19, ran the marathon with his club running team, the Greater Boston Track Club.
Artistic Alumni: This year, The Heights spoke with several alumni who have spent their postgraduate years showcasing their artistic talents to the world. Proving to BC students that failure is okay, actor Matt Del Negro, BC ’94, discussed his tumultuous path to a career on stage and his podcast about perserverance, “10,000 No’s with Matthew Del Negro.” Gary Gulman, BC ’93, opened up about the truth behind his depression and how he has found a home in performing comedy for others. And James Balog, BC ’74, captured attention with his luminous wildlife photos and the stories behind each one.
UGBC Elections: In January, three candidates announced their bid for the role of UGBC president. After Reid Aguilar, MCAS ’22, dropped out of the race for presidency, Taylor Jackson, MCAS ’21, and Michael Osaghae, MCAS ’20, ran against each other in two spirited campaigns. In February, The Heights featured each team, who discussed their goals for the next academic year. Jackson and her running mate, Alejandro Perez, MCAS ’21, focused on community, collaboration, and commitment. Osaghae and his running mate, Tiffany Brooks, MCAS ’21, focused on intentionality, innovation, and intersectionality.
Transfer Students Take the Heights: Each year, anywhere from 70 to 200 students transfer to Boston College, hoping to improve their remaining undergraduate years. While many people on the Heights do their best to provide these students with a smooth change, the transition is anything but easy for incoming transfers. In January, five transfer students—Grant Kalfus, BC ’19; Caitlin Mahoney, BC ’19; Molly Wolfe, BC ’19; Hannah Tucker, Lynch ’21; and Autumn Hauser, MCAS ’21—walked us through the trials, tribulations and, ultimately, the benefits of being a transfer student.
Lift Every Voice and Sing: The Heights spoke with members of traditionally black arts groups to learn how these groups serve not only as creative outlets, but as crucial communities for black students on campus. Step team Sexual Chocolate celebrated its 20th anniversary, while its sister group F.I.S.T.S. took first place at Tufts’ Break the Stage step competition. PATU, with its largest team yet, enjoyed a boost in recognition from a recent Showdown win. R&B a capella group B.E.A.T.S. explained its special role as a unifier of the black community at BC.
A Streamlined Showdown: This year’s ALC Showdown eliminated the Showcase category of the competition so that the event featured only two dance categories: Competition and Culture. In addition, all groups had to keep their routines under six minutes, a tighter time limit than previous years. A total of 15 groups competed. Fuego del Corazón took first place in the Competition category, while Boston College Irish Dance came in second. For the second year in a row, PATU took first place in the Culture category. F.I.S.T.S. took home the ALC’s Choice award.
The Last Hurrah: An annual favorite since 2010, the Campus Activities Board hosted a final Plexapalooza before the demolition of the Flynn Recreation Complex. The concert featured EDM artists RL Grime and Audien, with student DJ openers Matt Kuda and Max Gates, both MCAS ’19.
Art Abounds: The annual week-long Arts Festival included dance and a capella performances, play readings, a film festival, and a full-fledged musical. Singer-songwriters and bands from across campus competed at BC’s Best for the chance to open at Modstock. The theatre department staged a production of 9 to 5: The Musical, the story taking on new significance in the #MeToo era. Student filmmakers presented documentaries that tackled global issues at a social justice film screening.
Broadway at The Heights: Hamilton cast member and Grammy and Tony award winner Leslie Odom Jr. performed at the 27th annual Pops on the Heights fundraising gala. The event raised a whopping $12.3 million, funding 427 scholarships. Student performer Natalie Marsan, MCAS ’21, received a standing ovation for her performance of “When I Look at You” from The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Beyond BC: Boston had a wide array of live music to offer. Boston Calling returned for its 10th iteration in May. The music festival has steadily drawn larger and larger crowds since its inception in 2013. This year, it featured headliners 21 Pilots, Tame Impala, and Travis Scott. Meanwhile, big name artists made sure to swing by Boston throughout the year. Country sensation Kacey Musgraves promoted her 2018 album Golden Hour in psychedelic style, The Chainsmokers entertained throngs of fans at TD Garden, and Hozier brought the crowd at Wang Theatre to its feet with his bluesy rhythms.
Rewind to the Aughts: This year, the Arts section revived iEdit, a staple of Heights issues from the 2000s. The premise is simple: A featured editor compiles a playlist of 10 songs, and another Heights editor provides a playful roast of their music taste. The anachronistic title refers to the long-ago abandoned iPod, but for tradition’s sake, Arts has opted to hold onto it. The playlists themselves, however, are now displayed on print and online via a Spotify screen shot. From snarky digs at Associate Arts Editor Emily Himes’ fondness for country to a breakdown of A1 Editor Jacob Schick’s eclectic taste, the iEdit reboot has started off strong.
Making Their Mark: Current students and alumni alike made headway in their artistic endeavors with passion and ambition. Singer-songwriter Stavros Piperis, BC ’19, recorded a professional album of songs he composed while at BC, while seniors Isobel Knight and Cannon Few, MCAS ’20, juggled their burgeoning music careers and full-time study. BC alumna Lulu Wang, BC ’05, garnered critical acclaim with her biographical film The Farewell. Creative former Eagles made their way back to their alma mater. Funk band Juice, which is composed of BC students who met their freshman year in 2013, returned to campus for the UGBC Block Party, while alumni working in the fields of art and entertainment gathered in the McMullen Museum to network with interested students.
A War Over Webster Woods: Following a battle between the City of Newton and Boston College, the Newton City Council voted unanimously to seize Webster Woods from BC via eminent domain. Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller first sought to retake the woods in September. The 17-acre area of land also includes a former synagogue and parking lot, which BC currently uses as a rehearsal space, retreat center, and activity center. Newton has said it would leave this land for BC. Purchased by BC for $20 million in 2016, the City Council approved a proposal to repurchase the land for $15.7 million. Associate Vice President for University Communications Jack Dunn contended that Fuller and the City Council underestimated the property’s value and legal cost associated with its seizure.
Vape Ban: In September, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced a state-wide public health emergency and a ban on the sale of vaping products in Massachusetts for four months. The City of Newton subsequently passed a regulation saying that after Baker’s ban expired, only adult-only stores will be allowed to sell vape products in Newton: Vape Daddy’s and Garden City Vape. Baker and Monica Bharel, the public health commissioner, faced lawsuits from the owners of a number of Massachusetts vape shops. After months of protest and controversy, Baker announced the ban would be lifted on Dec. 11, over a month before initially scheduled.
A Year of Protest: Boston residents marched for what they believed in this year, with a number of protests held across the city for various causes. In March, Laura Ray, an animal rights activist, organized a demonstration outside of the Canada Goose store in the Prudential Center Mall to protest the brand’s capturing and killing of wild animals to produce its clothing. In August, a group of protestors sporting bright red shirts marched on Newton City Hall in support of Newton teachers, who were left without a renewed contract. And hundreds of protesters showed up at the Boston Straight Pride Parade, organized by Super Happy Fun America. In September, a group of black marijuana entrepreneurs—who formed a group called Real Action for Cannabis Equity (R.A.C.E.)—protested silently outside of Cambridge City Hall, calling attention to cannabis license inequity in the Boston area.
A Taste of Boston: Boston is known for its wide variety of delicious food. From traditional Indian food to ice cream, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Heights editors tried local coffee shops including Blue Bottle, Pavement, 1369 Coffee House, and Farmer’s Horse to create a guide for navigating the many options for a morning cup of coffee.
Pet Pandemonium: Two local heroes emerged in courageous animal rescues this year. A Burmese Python named Lightning was loose in Newton, leaving residents concerned for the safety of young children and pets. Three days after the python escaped, J.P. “The Snake Whisperer” LaPierre found Lightning under a staircase a few houses away from the snake’s home and returned him to his owners. Katie Kellner helped return another critter to safety when a dog jumped into the water of the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. When the dog’s owner dove in after it, the man began to drown and screamed for help. Kellner instinctively swam out to rescue the dog and its owner, saving both of their lives.
Bookmark Boston: Throughout the year, Heights editors hit some of the city’s best and brightest. On Newbury Street, Trident Booksellers sells books and brunch, pages and pancakes, coffee and copies of bestsellers. A ride on the Red Line leads readers to Harvard Book Store—a shop rooted in tradition. Brookline Booksmith still stands tall after 50 years in Coolidge Corner. And a romance-only pop-up bookstore in Somerville gives Boston-based readers their daily dose of romance. Boston is not a city bereft of books, bookstores, or the people that read them.
The Heights photo editors looked back through the archives for the most captivating moments they captured on camera this year. Here are some of their favorites.