Time to change Torchlight Parade?

By Patrick Carbone – 1851 Contributor

Illustration by Felipe Bida

Lasell celebrates the end of the academic year with the Torchlight Parade. Students will carry a lit tiki torch and make their way down Woodland Road as seniors pass their torch to an underclassman, which is supposed to represent the underclassman continuing that senior’s legacy at Lasell. Although it has a lovely and sentimental meaning, I believe it is time for Lasell to change the look of its famous Torchlight Parade. I say this because torches have long been associated with race supremacy groups and the Torchlight Parade bears a strong resemblance to past events such as the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

In August of 2017, white supremacists took to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia for two days, carrying tiki torches yelling antisemitic and racial chants, as they protested the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. Protestors wore Nazi symbols and also carried Confederate flags and weapons in this horrific event. On the second day of the rally, a white supremacist drove his car into a sea of counter-protestors, killing one and injuring 35 others.

But that is only one of many events over the past 150 years that carry racial and antisemitic views. The tiki torch has been a part of these events dating back to post-Civil War USA. And the fact that Lasell is allowing and encouraging their students to walk around campus with these torches is not a good look for the university. It seems very difficult to deny the similar look of the Torchlight Parade and these terrible rallies.

I completely understand what the Torchlight Parade signifies and the history it has at Lasell. I love the idea of an event where the Lasell community can come together and celebrate their graduating seniors and their rising underclassmen. Yes, I know that the parade has nothing to do with racial supremacy. But is there a better way of celebrating students than having students march down the street with lit torches at a predominantly white school?

I am not saying that we need to completely do away with the Torchlight Parade, more change the look of it. We could possibly substitute the torches with lanterns for instance. It may not be the best idea, however, it is a great way for Lasell to distance itself from this disturbing-looking celebration. 

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