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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Lauren Craig Redmond Fights for Social Justice


Philosophy BA, 2000

Imagine Thanksgiving, 1998, the turkey, the stuffing, all the sauces, the warmth within, the chill without, students anticipating a few free days. For those who don’t have a family, or who are not invited home for the holiday, Laura Craig Redmond announced an LGBT community meal: 
“If you are in a relationship with a same-sex partner, a different race partner, or God forbid, a partner who is both, the folks can sometimes be less than warm,” Redmond wrote in the student newspaper. “Come holiday time, many in these situations are left out in the cold.” 
It was one of the first major events Redmond organized through the LGBT Center. She and her co-coordinator, Leila Kohler, had met in a religious studies class the semester before, in the spring of 1998. 
As a student, Redmond aspired to become a philosophy professor. But when she was midway through her degree, Larry Foster, chair of the philosophy department at the time, showed her research showing how well philosophy majors do in law school. This inspired her to take on the extra Philosophy and Law program. After graduation, Redmond went into law school. 
“I like blameworthy law,” she says. “I like knowing that somebody’s right and somebody’s wrong, within the context of the law. I couldn’t be a tax attorney, for example.” 
As a part of her practice, Redmond takes court appointments that public defenders cannot take, and represents those people being charged with crimes at a major discount, one fourth of her cheapest fee. 
“People always tell me I could have made so much more money,” she says. “But I like who I am, and that’s more important than money.” 
This activist spirit, the desire to make life better for other people, was already ingrained in Redmond when she attended UMass Boston in her 40s. Training in philosophy, she felt, would help her better advocate for the downtrodden, and that is the reason she returned to college. 
“It’s really paid off,” she says. “I formulate arguments better, and there are more tracks in my arguments thanks to my philosophy training.” 
At graduation, her father called to congratulate her on having completed the “32 year undergraduate program.” All of her siblings had already graduated from college when she finished, in 2000. 
“I waited till the last damn minute to get my undergraduate degree,” Redmond says. “So it doesn’t matter if you drop out. If you find a passion, go back to school. You’ll find a way.” 
For Redmond, UMass Boston was the easiest and cheapest option. “I didn’t have to take gym and all that. It’s an adult campus.”
As a student, she championed social justice.
“I’ve always been a bit of a rabble-rouser. I came up through the 60s: the civil rights movement, the woman’s movement, the gay rights movement. I like to fight when there is injustice, and make it right. I heard of four or five or six different instances within a month or so, of discrimination on campus, and that pissed me off.” 
“My friend Tiffany and I were incensed about the number of instances of out-and-out discrimination on campus, mostly toward gay people, but some also based on race, and of course gender, against women. So we started a movement to get the office of the undergraduate ombudsperson reinstated. During that time, we made presentations in classes, but also we interviewed every single dean, and all of them supported us, except for the dean who was supposed to be handling that stuff. I remember the look on her face when she heard what we were doing.” 
Through the efforts to appoint someone who would advocate for student rights, Redmond remembers how she made friends with Leila Kohler through the LGBT student center. 
“I’m a gay woman, and my friend Leila is straight. This was the late 90s, and people were like ‘Does she have the right to be a coordinator?’ I was like, ‘Yeah!’ To me it was an eye opener, because I didn’t realize how many gay people were reverse-bigoted against straights. I mean, people got really upset that a straight woman was co-heading the LGBT Center. I just thought that it was a sign of progress. We were co-coordinators, and we did weekly rap sessions so that people could come in and have a free space to ask questions, and to get rid of their homophobia.” 
As an older student, Redmond learned it was ok to spend the majority of her time fighting evil. She became a social justice warrior, defending the honor of her fellow students at every opportunity. 
“One guy was going into the garage, underneath the Wheatley building, and somebody said something to him like, “faggot,” and, “fudge packer,” and they didn’t even know this guy.” 
She helped several students talk through emotional situations, and before she left, she organized a vigil for Matthew Shepard, a boy from Wyoming who was killed and strapped to a barbed-wire fence. 
“That was Leila’s idea,” she says. “The Westboro Baptist Church picketed his funeral with signs that said, ‘Matthew Shepard is burning in hell.’ ‘God hates fags.’ Their sole mission in life is to eradicate gay males from the universe. She wanted to hold a vigil in response to that, and it was during the time when we were doing the movement to get the ombudsperson reinstated, and a couple of hundred people showed up during the course of the day.” 
Redmond’s favorite class was Formal Logic, Philosophy 120. 
“Oh god, it was so geeky and so challenging, and I just loved every minute of it, with Professor Roma Farion.” 
Though she hasn’t been back on campus lately, she is glad to hear about the new buildings.
“When I was there, the science building had a split that was in some places, like, two feet wide, and it went the whole length of the building. That was because somebody had blown something up in the lab, and all that pressure built up, but they couldn’t afford to fix it. So, I’m thinking any improvement to the physical plant is good because back then the campus was held together with spit and a prayer.”

About the Contributor
Caleb Nelson served as the following positions for The Mass Media the following years: Editor-in-Chief: Fall 2010; 2010-2011; Fall 2011 News Editor: Spring 2009; 2009-2010