There’s no option on Twitter to see what’s trending on the Hilltop, but if there were, it would likely often show basketball predictions or Leo’s complaints. On Dec. 5, students and alumni instead turned campus online conversation to a more serious topic through the hashtag #BBGU, or “being black at Georgetown University.”
Beyond the copious campus discussion spurred by the protest, in which students, faculty and alumni voiced their experiences dealing with race, #BBGU has started to effect positive change on campus by inspiring similar events from the Asian, Latino and — as of yesterday — disabled communities at Georgetown.
Unlike more traditional venues for political expression, #BBGU and its offshoots have a tangible sense of grassroots organization and of unfiltered, immediate honesty. The anecdotal moments captured in these tweets have provided a forum through which matters of race can be discussed with respect and accountability, an obvious improvement over the overtly racist discussions that have taken place in the “Georgetown Confessions” Facebook group.
One might reasonably question the direct social change that these Twitter protests will enact. It is true that they advocate no specific policy change beyond an avenue to express marginalized experiences.
Yet if there was previously no such avenue of expression, then merely facilitating expression is a justified end in and of itself. The success of #BBGU is an encouraging instance of social media raising the volume of marginalized voices and enhancing the quality of campus dialogue.