Georgetown students are some of the most well-informed 20-something-year-olds out there. We have a profound understanding of the world’s problems and are extremely motivated to solve them, especially our own pet projects: those national and international issues for which we have strong affinities.
I know students who are qualified experts on Sudan, Palestine and sustainable energy in the developing world. I know some who have already devoted much of their lives to poverty alleviation in Latin America, education reform in inner-city schools and affordable healthcare for all. And I know countless more who are avidly preparing for the opportunity to immerse themselves in these and countless other issues. Certainly, our love of international giving is quite admirable.
But there is a problem with how much we focus on the world. We must not forget local issues and problems, especially those related closely to Georgetown. Students need to become more locally involved.
Some might dismiss this critique right away, claiming adamantly and honestly that the troubles of our community pale in comparison to starvation in Africa or global warming. It’s hard to argue with that claim.
But it is also important to remember that there will be a time when each of us will have the opportunity to leave the larger world a better place and have much more professional influence, experience and reach. Right now, our local community needs each of us.
The difference we can make here on campus is tremendous. Here, at this school, every student has real power, a real say and real influence over decisions being made and projects being completed.
We’re all students. And though each of us has come here hoping to learn and to experience so that we might do great things later in life, our responsibility to our current home cannot be dismissed: Even if we look to the future, we must live in the present.
Georgetown has its fair share of concerns: town-gown relations, sustainable community development, student-administration interactions, campus quality of life, student space, crime, violence and discrimination to name a few. What’s more, unlike most national and international troubles, Georgetown’s issues can be solved quite readily and can be significantly influenced by passionate and focused student groups.
The way we thrive here must be fought for by every generation in order to help preserve it for the next. Though each student only spends four years here on the Hilltop, the legacy of that short time can be felt for generations to come, just like our capital campaign advertises.
Obviously, I do not think we should turn away our attention from the world. And I would be the last to suggest setting aside or squashing passions and affinities for larger issues. Instead, I pose a simple suggestion: Imagine if each student gave a sliver of the energy they have for the greater world and instead focused it here, on these 104 acres. Imagine all that we could accomplish.
How? I leave that up to each individual student, with his or her unique talents and passions. Some will get involved with local politics. Others might fight for student rights. Everyone can do something small to make a big difference.
We can all take the time to vote on Georgetown University Student Association elections and referendums, including the Student Activities Fee Endowment allocation bill now up for a vote, recognizing the consequences these ballots might have for future students. We can all consider registering to vote in D.C. because local elections have a major impact on the future of our university. We can all attend events, like last semester’s campus plan hearings, where student participation could have had a tremendous effect. And, most simply, we can all stay informed by following local media, by talking with friends and by engaging with the university and local representatives.
The bigger issues will always be with us, and we have our entire lives to transform the world. Our opportunity to improve Georgetown lasts a mere four years. Let’s make those years matter, as our predecessors have done since 1789. Let’s use our short time here to enhance Georgetown for generations to come.
Michael Fischer is a junior in the School of Foreign Service. CURA HOYANALIS appears every other Tuesday.