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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Year in review: Top stories from 2023 at Georgetown University

Year+in+review%3A+Top+stories+from+2023+at+Georgetown+University

It was a year of change on the hilltop. 

Pressure to reassess admission processes, a series of administrative hires, a search for a new mascot and a turnover in the basketball program’s leadership are just a few of the challenges Georgetown University officials adjusted to in 2023. Students, aiming to create change themselves, responded to issues that arose both on and off campus, protesting incidents on the hilltop like racist hate speech and rallying to address ongoing crises abroad like the Israel-Hamas war. 

Here are some of the most critical stories from Georgetown this year:

Students engage in protest

Students participated in a series of sit-ins and rallies in February that Georgetown University Protects Racists (GUPR), a group of students demanding justice for LaHannah Giles (CAS ’23), organized. These sit-ins, which also took place for three days in December 2022, came after a white male in New South Hall, a first-year dorm, shouted for the death of all Black people and called Giles, a Black student, a racial slur in April 2022. 

The February 2023 sit-ins were a response to the inconclusive results that the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Affirmative Action (IDEAA) returned to Giles following the center’s 10-month investigation into the hate crime against them.

Miranda Xiong/The Hoya | Students gathered for sit-ins in Healy Hall and made posters with messages like “Justice for LaHannah” and “We Demand Accountability @IDEAA.”

While Giles identified the perpetrator in the initial footage from the incident, GUPD allegedly lost that footage in a server failure — the date of which the university declined to share with The Hoya. After the IDEAA report concluded there was insufficient evidence to identify the perpetrator, GUPR concluded its sit-ins and renewed their attention to the larger institutions involved in the incident. 

Students also took a stance on abortion rights as several campus groups gathered to protest the university’s sponsorship and hosting of the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life (OCC), the largest student-run anti-abortion conference in the United States, which featured speakers like the president and CEO of Americans United for Life. H*yas for Choice (HFC), an abortion rights campus group, organized the January protest, and Georgetown University College Democrats (GUCD) gathered more than 125 student signatures in opposition of the conference. 

The national abortion debate echoed on campus in 2023 through ongoing discourse between HFC and Georgetown University Right to Life (RTL), an anti-abortion campus group, as well as through events like the “Student Abortion Panel (A Presentation of Perspectives),” a formal debate between pro-abortion rights and anti-abortion students which the Georgetown Bipartisan Coalition hosted.

Several students also gathered in November to counterprotest Traditional, Family, Property (TFP), a Traditionalist Catholic conservative advocacy group that appeared at the front gates of campus after a Catholic priest who advocates for LGBTQ+ rights — Fr. James Martin, S.J. — spoke on campus.

Men’s basketball welcomes new head coach

The university parted ways with its 18th men’s basketball head coach lPatrick Ewing (CAS ’85) in March 2023. Ewing, who as a Georgetown player led the Hoyas to three NCAA tournament finals and Georgetown’s only NCAA basketball title in 1984, joined the program as head coach in 2017.

Michelle Vassilev/The Hoya | Athletes, cheerleaders and multiple news outlets like the Associated Press filled Nolan Hall on March 22 for Ed Cooley’s introductory press conference.

Despite his 17 years as an NBA player and his 11-time All-Star standing, Ewing struggled to coach the Georgetown basketball team to consistent victories during his six seasons at the helm. He set the all-time conference record for the most consecutive losses with 29 back-to-back Big East losses, bringing his record as head coach to 27-71. 

Less than two weeks after Ewing’s departure, the university named former Providence head coach Ed Cooley as the new Georgetown men’s basketball coach. Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia (CAS ’79, GRD ’95) said he saw Cooley — who came to Georgetown with 12 seasons of experience at the Providence Friars and a 242-153 record — as the “builder” the university needed, someone who creates teams and community.

Cooley incited excitement in the Georgetown community as he led the team to victory at the season opener in November, defeating Le Moyne College 94-57 as Capital One Arena filled with exuberant cheers. The Hoyas, however, have also faced tough losses under Cooley, including a one-point loss in the last minute of their match-up against Holy Cross.

Cooley’s record at Georgetown is 7-6, 0-2 as of Dec. 29.  

Administration and students respond to end of affirmative action in admissions

Michelle Vassilev/The Hoya | The Supreme Court overturned affirmative action in college admissions in a Jun. 29 ruling.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that universities including Georgetown could no longer consider race in their admissions. Many Georgetown students expressed frustration with the decision and said it would negatively impact non-white applicants.

The end of race-based affirmative action brought legacy admissions at universities under greater scrutiny. Over 1,000 Georgetown students, faculty and staff have called for an end to preferences for legacy applicants in the university’s admissions in a petition which started to circulate in August. The Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA) passed a resolution in September endorsing the petition, and some senators said the end to legacy preference would increase racial and economic diversity at the school.

President DeGioia said in September that the university would begin to look at socioeconomic factors in admissions and would engage in discussions on an end to legacy admissions.

Death of campus mascot spurs search for new bulldog

Jack the Bulldog, Georgetown university’s mascot, died in July following a short illness. Jack, whose full name was IROC Casagrande John F. Carroll, served as the campus mascot since August 2019, fulfilling his role as the university’s eighth English bulldog mascot.  

Heather Wang/The Hoya | The new Jack the Bulldog will join the hilltop in Spring 2024.

More than a month following Jack’s death, once students had returned to campus for the Fall 2023 semester, Jack’s caretaker Cory Peterson declined to answer The Hoya’s questions about the university’s plans for a new mascot. 

In late September, The Hoya acquired exclusive information about Jack’s death, indicating that he died of canine intestinal lymphangiectasia at the age of four. Following the death of Jack, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) criticized the university for “exploiting bulldogs,” which should have an average life span of eight to 10 years. 

The university announced a new Jack the Bulldog — Serchell’s John P. Carroll — in late November, marking Georgetown’s ninth bulldog mascot. 

GUSA votes to not certify executive election, holds special election

Kassidy Angelo/The Hoya | Cobb and Mehta won 768 votes during the special executive election.

GUSA voted 11-6 to not certify the results of the October executive election following allegations of election misconduct against the winners, Jaden Cobb (CAS ’25) and Sanaa Mehta (SFS ’25). 

Cobb and Mehta, who secured over 50 percent of the vote, allegedly broke GUSA election bylaws by creating voting stations with electronic devices on election day and reportedly bullying and harassing other campaigns. Cobb and Mehta denied the allegations of bullying and harassment and said campaign volunteers were doing homework on computers while tabling on election day.

GUSA held an unprecedented special election less than two weeks later. The Cobb-Mehta campaign won 66 percent of the vote and were sworn in as the new president and vice president in November.

Students react to Israel-Hamas war

The Hamas attacks in Israel in October and subsequent Israeli bombings in Gaza prompted Georgetown student organizations to take to the steps of Healy Hall and Red Square to voice their opinions.

Students from Chabad Georgetown, Georgetown Israel Alliance, Jewish Life at Georgetown and the Georgetown Jewish Students Association organized a “Vigil for Israel” in support of the people of Israel in the days after the attacks.

Georgetown Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) held a “Vigil for Our Martyrs” the following evening on National SJP Day of Action in Red Square. The organization also hosted a walkout later that month, filling Red Square with students and professors. 

Members of SJP and other students criticized President DeGioia for a community-wide email the day after the Hamas attacks in which he expressed sympathy for the victims but did not address the deaths of Palestinians. DeGioia released a second statement 11 days later recognizing “devastation felt across Israel, the West Bank, and in Gaza.”

Lauren Doherty/The Hoya | Students shared their opinions on the Israel-Hamas war by writing messages in chalk and hanging up posters in Red Square.

Many Georgetown students joined hundreds of thousands of protestors in November in a national march in Freedom Plaza calling for a ceasefire in Palestine and an end to the siege of Gaza. SJP held a rally five days later echoing the national march’s demands and calling for President DeGioia and the university administration to support a ceasefire in Gaza.

Many Georgetown students also gathered alongside hundreds of thousands of protestors the following week in the “March for Israel” at the National Mall to show their support for Israel after the Oct. 7 attack. 

Georgetown hosted multiple forums for student and faculty discussions on the war following the attacks. Four faculty members discussed the reasons behind the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza and criticized U.S. officials’ responses to the attacks by Hamas and Israel in a panel in October. The Center for Security Studies (CSS) hosted two security studies professors who discussed Hamas’ motivations and strategy, Israel’s ongoing response and the role the global community could play in combating the conflict in a November event. 

University announces new hires, campus centers

The university welcomed several new figures to campus in 2023.

The Georgetown University Police Department hired Katherine Perez, its first female police chief, in April, after receiving input from GUSA during the selection process. Perez, the former assistant chief of police for the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors at their D.C. location, plans to develop stronger relationships with campus organizations like the Student Safety Advisory Board (SSAB), which works to make sure police officers maintain justice and equality on the job. 

The LGBTQ Resource Center announced a new associate director in April. A former student services coordinator at the University of Dayton, Riley Jelenick will lead the center’s programming and support the LGBTQ+ community on campus.   

Anthony Fauci, the former White House chief medical advisor and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, joined the Georgetown University School of Medicine (GUSOM) and the McCourt School of Public Policy as a distinguished university professor in July. Fauci had visited the university a few months prior to give a lecture on pandemic preparation and prevention.

Claudia Arias-Cirinna, the former associate dean of students and director of the Office of Student Care and Concern at the University of Connecticut, joined the university as its new associate vice president and dean of students in August. 

Officials also announced several new university spaces, including the opening of a new Disability Cultural Center on the ground floor of New South Hall and the construction of the first mosque on a U.S. university campus with a halal kitchen, ablution stations and a spirituality and formation hall. The university also shared its intention to develop academic programs in Jakarta, Indonesia following a November campus visit from Indonesian President Joko Widodo.  

Georgetown mourns loss of community members

The Georgetown community came together to mourn the loss of many campus figures this year.

Will Stocksdale (SFS ’25), a global business major, died in April at the age of 20. Stocksdale was a member of the Students Advancing Food Equity (SAFE), an organization that ensures diverse food is accessible to all students, and Best Buddies, a nonprofit organization that provides mentorship and support to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

Simone Woung (LAW ’97), an assistant dean and registrar at Georgetown University Law School, died in March at the age of 51. Woung served on numerous university and law center committees, as well as the board of directors for the National Network of Law School Officers, a professional development organization for law school officers.

Tasha Butts, the head coach of Georgetown University women’s basketball, died at the age of 41 in October after a two-year battle with metastatic breast cancer. Georgetown hired Butts — who previously spent four years as associate head coach at Georgia Tech — in April after they failed to renew its contract with former women’s basketball head coach James Howard, who had a six-year tenure and a 66-108, 32-77 Big East record. 

John Hirsch, a professor in the Georgetown University English department, died in December at the age of 81. He taught in the department for more than 53 years, specializing in 19th and early 20th-century literature, while leading a literacy mentorship program for low-income students in the District. 

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