The Georgetown University Student Association Senate passed a resolution calling on Georgetown University to recognize the Lunar New Year on the official Georgetown University calendar and social media platforms at their most recent meeting Jan. 20.
The resolution, which was introduced and sponsored by at large senator Charlie Wang (SFS ’22) and passed the GUSA Senate unanimously, additionally called for the university to work with Southeast Asian and Chinese student groups on campus to support Lunar New Year celebrations on campus. Senator Peter Hamilton (COL ’20) was listed as a co-sponsor of the resolution.
The resolution will provide recognition of an important holiday for many students and faculty on campus, Wang wrote in an email to The Hoya.
“The Georgetown administration does not formally recognize the Lunar New Year on its calendar nor on its social media platforms,” Wang wrote. “A significant amount of student and staff population on campus are people of Asian descent who celebrate the annual Lunar New Year. Hence, I wrote this resolution to request the Georgetown administration to formally recognize the festival.”
The Lunar New Year is a holiday celebrated in Asia and around the world by people of East and Southeast Asian heritages. Over 450 undergraduate students, nearly 1,700 graduate students and 190 professionals are from the Asia-Pacific area, according to the university website.
While Lunar New Year is neither an academic holiday nor listed on the university calendar, the university supports student organizations’ Lunar New Year celebrations, a university spokesperson wrote in an email to The Hoya.
“The Georgetown University calendar is limited to academic holidays, but we acknowledge the Lunar New Year is an important date for many of our students, faculty and staff, and we will continue to acknowledge the holiday on University social media accounts and through other University channels,” a spokesperson wrote. “We also encourage organizations on campus to find ways to celebrate this important date, and we look forward to supporting them in this endeavor.”
Holidays listed on the main campus academic calendar include Easter, Labor Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and President’s Day. Previously, the university recognized Columbus Day as a holiday until two years ago when it was formally changed to a mid-semester holiday.
Wang plans to continue pushing university’s administrator to consider the measure because of the increasing support by student affinity groups, he said.
“My resolution has gained the support from the wider Asian cultural clubs and communities on campus, and I have already reached out to Todd Olson, the Vice President of Student Affairs, for further action,” Wang wrote.
In the past, the university has recognized the Lunar New Year on its social media accounts, last year they posted an image of Jack the Bulldog on Feb. 6, 2019, celebrating the start of the year of the pig.
While the resolution is a positive step in recognition of the holiday on campus, past initiatives and further efforts should be spotlighted, Bryce Badger (MSB ‘21), co-president of the Asian American Student Association, wrote in an email to The Hoya.
“We are excited that GUSA has taken steps to recognize an event which is so important to many API students on campus,” Badger wrote. “We are surprised to learn that nothing like this has been done before but commend the efforts of Senators Wang and Hamilton in spearheading this as well as Senator Rassieur who co-sponsored a resolution to commemorate API Heritage Month in November.”
In November 2019, the GUSA Senate passed a resolution, sponsored by senator Leo Rassieur (COL ’23) and Hamilton, calling for the university to formally recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage month in November. The measure ultimately passed the senate unanimously.
The Chinese Student Alliance supports the resolution and lauds GUSA’s efforts to recognize the Lunar New Year, according to CSA Co-Presidents Shine Aung (SFS ’21) and Linda Wen (COL ’21).
“The mission of the Chinese Student Alliance is to promote understanding between the Chinese and American communities here at Georgetown as well as create a community for Chinese Americans rooted in the celebration of Chinese culture,” the copresidents wrote. “The passing of this resolution shows us the dedication of the Georgetown community to this mission and we hope to continue to work with GUSA in the future to promote intercommunal understanding on campus.”