In recent days, many media outlets have had much to say about the corruption scandal surrounding Boston city councilor Chuck Turner. The embattled local politician struck back against the media, in another widely publicized event, accusing rivals of depriving him of a fair trial. But despite all this commotion, one would be hard-pressed to find a member of the Boston University community aware of, much less concerned by, the corruption scandal unfolding at City Hall ‘-‘- a sign of an alarming disconnect between Boston students and the city they live in. In this case, the corruption Turner is accused of committing should be taken seriously, as it is an issue that affects all residents.
On Friday, the FBI arrested Turner on charges of accepting a bribe from a nightclub operator looking to acquire a liquor license. While the alleged bribe from the nightclub operator ‘-‘- $1,000 ‘-‘- was less than the amount allegedly given to Sen. Dianne Wilkerson just under a month earlier, the crime is no less distressing.
This is not the first time Boston and the Bay State have been the subject of embarrassing corruption scandals. Construction of the Big Dig under downtown Boston was rife with reports of graft, but the only a few contractors, like failed North End contractor Carmen ‘Cheese Man’ DiNunzio, were ever indicted. Political campaigns, long known to be cradles of corruption have for too long gone unchecked, with little to no financial transparency.
In the Turner/Wilkerson corruption investigation, a club operator was in search of a little political muscle to help receive a liquor license ‘-‘- a license that in Massachusetts is distributed in limited numbers, which creates fierce competition for much-needed business licenses. In cases like this, if the giver of the bribe was to receive an under-the-table liquor license, it would hurt other restaurants and bars that have to pay great sums of money to obtain the licenses legally. Though it may not seem obvious at first, this cycle of corruption tumbles all the way down to the average consumer in the form of increased prices and costs.
But at BU, hardly any students take notice of the severe crimes that have become commonplace downtown. In the ‘BU Bubble,’ it is far too easy to take a stance of ‘how does it affect me?’ But apathy toward corruption becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If citizens do not demand transparency and integrity from their leaders, then they will receive exactly the kind of shady dealings they expect.
If a media circus, like the one that has developed around Wilkerson and Turner is not enough to gain the attention of the typical BU student, then the student body has a long way to come in earning the basic respect of the rest of the city. In case after case, students list the university’s location and connections to the city of Boston as the most attractive feature of the school. If BU is truly ‘Boston’s University,’ students should think of themselves as much a part of the city as the city is a part of their university.
As shameful as the city and state governments must feel following these charges of corruption, BU students should also feel shamed for ignoring their own environment. Full-time students of BU are indeed citizens of the city of Boston and the commonwealth of Massachusetts, and it is about time we acted like it.