Foolish is the idea that every action carried out by Georgetown University is a unified one. Inevitably, we disagree as a community. When we open up those differences to discussion, we find an aspect of Georgetown that actually unites us: pluralism.
Yet, when a silent H*yas for Choice protest was removed late Monday afternoon from its position outside the front gates, it plainly called into question where pluralism lies on our list of priorities.
Officially, the Georgetown University Police Department asked the group to relocate because of heavy foot traffic to and from the honorary degree event for Donald Cardinal Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington. However, if this reason is scrutinized, a different picture begins to emerge. The location where H*yas for Choice chose to table was the same spot to which they were relocated during a similar protest last year, away from their previous location of choice in Healy Circle.
Also, compared to similar setups in front of the front gates, it seems unlikely that GUPD would move H*yas for Choice merely to clear the way for pedestrians. During New Student Orientation, for example, tables are set up in that same location when parents and students are arriving to campus for the year. During commencement, the Dorm2Dorm moving service sets up a sales booth in this same location. Despite the heavy foot traffic that accompanies these end-of-year events, these organizations are allowed to remain. If Georgetown’s concern is pedestrians, then more groups than just H*yas for Choice should be affected.
Foot traffic notwithstanding, it might seem disgraceful to some that H*yas for Choice chose to demonstrate in opposition to Cardinal Wuerl’s reception of an honorary degree. Conversely, many students feel betrayed to see someone who is so staunchly against LGBTQ rights and women’s health receive such an award from our university.
Both sides have their merits. A naturally proceeding, healthy discussion will continue to be the best way to carve out a solution to these disagreements. Preventing H*yas for Choice from demonstrating its opinion by the front gates does not advance this pluralistic goal.