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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Students respond back to religious picketer on campus

From Monday, April 29 to Wednesday, May 1, large crowds formed in the courtyard between Wheatley and McCormack Halls between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.. Though the crowds reflected various views and backgrounds, they were all united against one common goal: a Christian picketer dedicated to damning passing college students to hell unless they repent for their sins and convert. 

On their poster, the picketer’s views were clear: “Hell Awaits. Judgment is Coming.” Above that, a lengthy list of “sinners,” including atheists, liars, gossips, homosexuals, hypocrites, fornicators and Muslims, were warned of their imminent time in hell. 

Members of the UMass Boston community were quick to call the picketer out on their actions, including shouting back responses to his claims of God hating sin and only the meek inheriting the earth with a simple “Hypocrite!”

One student went on to stand in front of the picketer and state, “Why are you all listening to this nut job? The best thing he did was bring you together—stop giving him attention and put on some music and go hang out somewhere else!” 

Several students—including LGBTQ+ students and Students for Justice in Palestine—organized impromptu counter protests, with these students waving their own signs and flags around in order to distract from the picketer. 

As a public university, UMass Boston is considered public property, and thus can be entered by anyone, regardless of their political or religious views. However, the university does have rules that can help to inhibit violence and hate speech on campus. As Section XI, subsection A of the Space Use Policy states: 

“The University of Massachusetts Boston will hold accountable all persons and organizations authorized to use campus property for actions which violate University policies and regulations. Such improper actions include but are not limited to: Material disruption of or interference with instructional activities and other University business and campus events; Actual or threatened physical violence, or other forms of harassment, or destruction of University, or other public or private property…” 

Despite this, and despite statements from the picketer about Muslim students following a false prophet that was the king of lies and claims that students should repent and start living righteously, UMass Boston did little to stop the picketer. The UMass Boston Police Department was stationed at the site of the protest, but did not step in to intervene between the UMass Boston community and the picketer beyond keeping the students a safe distance away.

In addition, there were efforts to “distract with love,” as Executive Assistant to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Aurora Burgos explained. The Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs’ office had a “go box” ready in the instance that protesters or picketers were on campus, containing pride flags, LGBTQ+ stickers, Black Lives Matter flags and Stop Asian Hate flags.

According to Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Mike Metzger, students can currently file a complaint with the Dean of Students if they feel as though the picketer has been disrupting their education. Until the university makes an official decision on what is to be done about such picketers—if anything is to be done—impacted students should be recommended to file a complaint for the time being.

About the Contributor
Katrina Sanville, Editor-In-Chief