BOSTON, Mass. - A group of 20 Boston College students stood out from the throng of suited undergrads who crowded Conte Forum during Tuesday's career fair. Those students, clad in "Who Would Jesus Bomb" T-shirts and kneeling silently, were protesting the presence of weapons manufacturers at the annual BC career fair.
The protest was organized by the Global Justice Project (GJP), a non-hierarchical organization whose mission is to educate and advocate for justice and democracy at BC. Fifteen student demonstrators knelt at the recruitment tables of military contractors Raytheon and BAE Systems. To the side of the kneeling students, six others participated in a satirical theater demonstration, posing as recruiters from a fictitious competing weapons manufacturer, the Civil Liberties On-Line Weapons Network Services (CLOWNS). The protestors actively tried to recruit career fair attendees to work for their company, offering "frequent buyer airfare packages ... to defend and promote democracy abroad." Midway through the event, students unfurled a banner, reading "Do Jesuits support cluster bombs? Kick Raytheon and all war off campus!"
"I feel that by refusing to un-invite Raytheon, the BC administration is condoning the company's policies, which to me is clearly contradictory to the Jesuit philosophy of this institution," said Tim Dingman, a member of the GJP and A&S '11.
Student demonstrators elected not to apply for a University-issued demonstration permit, citing the administration's "frighteningly clear" pattern of censoring student groups and infringing on their right to dissent and free expression on campus. They instead issued a "student demonstration permit" to members of the University. The permit read, in part, "not only do we believe we have an obligation to peacefully demonstrate the presence of weapons manufacturers on our campus, but we believe that dialogue and freeexchange of ideas are vital to the academic setting of any university that claims to espouse the values of scholarship and higher education."
The permit said that weapons manufacturers reap financial gain from violent and deadly global conflict, and asked whether BC supports organizations that are "helping to build the Kingdom of God," or ones that "create the deadly bombs to destroy it."
This is the fifth career fair protest that has taken place in the last five years, but past demonstrations have not been conducted as peaceably.
In 2005, the GJP's plans to protest the presence of Raytheon included a display that was to include faux Raytheon workers who were assembling a missile, as well as a bomb scene complete with bodies and debris. Though the organization sought and obtained permission to stage its demonstration, the University was unaware of the dramatic display the group had planned; the protest was cancelled at the last minute.
In 2004, 12 students staged a "pray-in" at the career fair at the Raytheon without University permission. Two of the demonstrators who refused to leave after the BC Police Department and the dean for student development arrived faced disciplinary action.
"As people of conscience, our faith demands that we actively work toward peace and justice," said Kathryn Bishop, a student demonstrator and A&S '10. "Today's prayer and protest is a small, but important step on the road toward nonviolence and disarmament."