Boston city councilors today condemned what they call an abuse by the state-owned Reggie Lewis Center at Roxbury Crossing: Boston student athletes have to clear out by 3:30 p.m. so busloads of students from well-off suburbs can use its state-of-the-art facilities for training and not get home too late.
City Councilor Erin Murphy (at large) won unanimous support for a resolution condemning the practice, which she introduced after reading a Dorchester Reporter article about how track students at Tech Boston Academy in Dorchester have had to resort to practicing by running up and down hallways and stairwells at their school.
She called for a formal council hearing at which state, BPS and suburban-school officials could explain themselves.
Murphy acknowledged that, as a state-owned facility, the Reggie should be open to any Massachusetts residents. But she said that when it opened in the 1990s, BPS was promised that local kids would get priority. Instead, she said, only students from the nearby O'Bryant School can get in any serious practice time because they can walk down the street to the center - most BPS schools, unlike their suburban counterparts, don't have buses to get students to and from Roxbury Crossing.
Councilor Tania Fernandes-Anderson (Roxbury) addressed her haters who think there is no such thing as systemic racism. "This is systemic racism," she said. "Money talks. In Roxbury, this is very real."
"This facility's in the heart of Boston and if we don't advocate and fight for kids from this city to have the opportunity to compete in a world-class facility such as the Reggie Lewis Center, we're really shortchanging our BPS students, our young kids across the city," Council President Ed Flynn (South Boston, Chinatown, South End, downtown) said. "I'm really disappointed that a city kid is unable use the facility and that some wealthy kid from Weston or Duxbury has the opportunity to compete."
Flynn added: "The day we stop supporting kids from the city and not giving them the same opportunities as wealthy families throughout greater Boston is really they day we should get out of politics, if we're not defending city kids."
Watch the discussion: