I joined The Hoya three weeks into my freshman fall, and I retire just weeks away from graduating. The Hoya has, in every way, defined my Georgetown University career. For that, I could not be more grateful.
At its best, The Hoya has three key roles: informing the Georgetown community, elevating underrepresented narratives, and holding powerful institutions and people accountable. These three goals are inextricably tied together. To effectively accomplish any of them, The Hoya must be an institution reflective of and connected to the student body. In that regard, we have fallen short.
As a predominantly white institution at a predominantly white institution, The Hoya too often fails to effectively engage communities of color on campus. We cannot holistically cover life at Georgetown while continuing to neglect the issues and efforts most central to these communities, a shortcoming only exacerbated by our largely white newsroom. We cannot claim to hold powerful institutions accountable with this blindspot in our coverage.
Journalism can hold truth to power and amplify the work of those seeking justice. However, this reporting must be rooted in authentic efforts to understand and connect with the diversity of narratives on this campus.
If the last few years alone are any evidence, Georgetown needs a culture of accountability. The Hoya has the capacity to help usher one in — largely by elevating the voices and work of students.
What keeps me up at night is not the fear that our newspaper, submitted 15 minutes past deadline, won’t be printed. Nor is it the bottles of Coke Zero downed while anxiously pacing around our Leavey 421 office. What keeps me awake are the ones that got away.
All of the stories we could never tell, the accountability we could never accomplish. Because we couldn’t nail down the sourcing, because people feared reprisal if they spoke to us or because they didn’t trust us to tell their stories. I am acutely aware that for every powerful, important story we tell, so many remain in the shadows.
This problem is not entirely solvable: We are but mere undergraduates, running on a shoestring budget and the time we find between classes and jobs and internships. We cannot do everything — but with your help, we can always do more.
Georgetown’s students deserve a watchdog — to call out abuses of power and to advocate for students by informing them and elevating their work. My 3½ years on The Hoya have made me more than confident that our talented staff has the potential to fill this role even more effectively than we already do. But we cannot do so without the investment of the student body.
I’m not asking for your money — though, certainly, donations are always welcome. Rather, The Hoya needs your trust. I know that in our 100-year history we have certainly not always deserved it; I’ve worked for The Hoya for too long to believe it’s flawless. But I implore you to think charitably of your fellow students.
The Hoya has arguably one of the largest platforms at Georgetown, yet without your stories to tell — and without the trust of our audience — that platform is fruitless.
So help us. Send us your tips, your suspicions, your most infuriating stories. Write us strongly worded letters to the editor. Tell us what we’re missing. Tell us what we’re getting wrong. Trust us with your stories, when our reporters and editors prove we are trustworthy. And when we fuck up, call us out. We’re tough; we can take it.
Good journalism — the stories that rattle deeply entrenched systems of power, the stories this campus needs — can only thrive when readers feel invested in its success. And on a college campus, where reporters and editors are woven into the community they cover, that mutual investment in shared success is all the more important.
Georgetown, like The Hoya, is a flawed institution. But both are ultimately composed of students driven by a desire for truth and justice. Both have the capacity for self-improvement — but both need a watchdog to hold them accountable to it.
Maya Gandhi is a senior in the School of Foreign Service and the 145th editor-in-chief of The Hoya. Her term ends Saturday.