On Sept. 19, Jackson Wagner (COL ’21) wrote “Can we call ICE on them” in the “Republican Hoyas Group” group chat in response to student protestors at a Georgetown University College Republicans event. Yet a full week later, GUCR still has not condemned the racist message.
Though the group chat is obviously not directly affiliated with GUCR, the organization nevertheless should take action as the largest club representing Republican students on campus. As the social building blocks on Georgetown’s campus, clubs have a responsibility to address such misconduct and educate their members in an effort to build an inclusive environment.
Screenshots of Wagner’s comment to “call ICE,” referring to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, circulated online last Friday. In response, Hoyas For Immigrant Rights condemned his message in a petition that has since collected signatures from nearly two dozen student groups and dozens more individual students. On Monday, Georgetown sent a universitywide email to “promote civility” and affirm its solidarity with students without documentation.
Meanwhile, GUCR has denied its association with the group chat, merely affirming that it will “continue to promote free expression on campus” in a statement to The Hoya. Instead of using this incident as an opportunity to educate its members and other students about inclusivity and respect for immigrant communities, GUCR has chosen not to acknowledge the racist nature of Wagner’s message.
At best, GUCR’s refusal to address the racist comment implies a tolerance of the ideas espoused in the statement; at worst, it endorses such a comment as appropriate.
By refusing to recognize the harmful nature of a threat to call ICE, students of GUCR have failed fellow Hoyas without documentation and those who come from a mixed-status family. The threat of ICE’s deportations have real consequences for many students on Georgetown’s campus and their families. GUCR must condemn the message to acknowledge the harsh realities immigrant communities face.
However, the group’s action must extend beyond simple condemnation: GUCR should take further action to educate members within its community to prevent future missteps.
By initiating dialogue among Republican students, GUCR can send a message of inclusivity and civility that is more likely to resonate with those students. The club should make a genuine effort to understand the harm done through the comment and explain to students affiliated with the club how joking about calling ICE is offensive and threatening to immigrant communities.
While HFIR and other groups on campus have commendably raised awareness around Wagner’s comment and provided support for those affected, GUCR undeniably has a responsibility to the students most closely associated with GUCR; the club’s silence on this matter is deafening.
Racist comments that invoke a threat to students’ safety should never be tolerated on this campus. In light of the harmful comment made, GUCR — as a representative of many Republican students on campus — must condemn the comment and move forward with dialogue within their own community so their members can understand the problematic nature of the comment.
With its silence, GUCR is implicitly condoning the racism and xenophobia exemplified in Wagner’s comment; it is incumbent on all students, but especially those most closely affiliated with the “Republican Hoyas Group” group chat, to address the comment.
GUCR’s lack of condemnation after the racist statement is entirely inexcusable. The organization must condemn the comment and educate its members to prevent such an incident from happening again.