“Magis,” a Latin word for “more,” is the inspiration behind Georgetown’s newest experiment in residence life.
Known as Magis Row, the new Living and Learning Community is composed of 59 students in 16 different townhouses, all located on 36th Street between N and O Streets. Students who live in the townhouses infuse their residential experiences with community service. Residents choose a theme and create community projects that exemplify that theme. The initiative was announced last September and inaugurated this semester.
The Catholic Social Justice Community combines a dedication to community service with an emphasis on Catholic teaching. Lauren Funk (SFS ’10) said the group’s mission statement incorporates both dimensions.
“The Catholic Social Justice Community is a community founded on Christ’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves and is committed to raising awareness of, and enacting itself, the core principles of Catholic social teaching,” Funk said.
“We hosted – just last week – a lecture on marriage and family, in which we invited [Catholic University of America professor] Bill Mattison to speak about the dichotomy between private and public life, and how the Catholic Church teaches us to integrate the two,” Funk said.
The Women and Spirituality house, founded by the Georgetown University Sisters for Christ, has a similar spiritual core.
“The Women and Spirituality house hopes to foster more conversations between women of different faith traditions,” resident Yassi Tamdji (SFS ’10) said. “Our pluralistic society demands that we not only tolerate, but respect each other.”
The Women and Spirituality house will seek to achieve this goal through a series of events.
“This toleration, respect and love will be manifested in formal events that promote inter-religious dialogue and understanding, but our hope is that ladies would feel free to stop by the house when in need of some spiritual support,” said Tanore Barrow (COL ’10), a Women and Spirituality house resident.
According to Tamdji, the Women and Spirituality house will host an event titled “It’s the God in Me” on Nov. 4 in which Georgetown visiting assistant professor Marilyn McMorrow will discuss her faith and experiences with interreligious tradition.
A third Magis Row group, the Global Health Activism and Awareness Project, is striving to promote dialogue about health issues.
“We want to work to promote interdisciplinary dialogue between the different health programs here on campus: the biology of global health major in the College, the health studies major in the[School of Nursing and Health Studies], and the science, technology, and international affairs program in the SFS,” Matthew Toth (COL ’10) said. “This is something we really find lacking here on campus. . We’re looking to have some discussion group dinners where we invite students and professors from all three schools to participate.”
Toth said that the GHAAP also focuses on health activism on a broader, international level.
“We’ve all gotten really caught up in the health care debate here at home, but there are also so many other health issues [affecting] the entire world that need to be recognized and dealt with as well,” Toth said. “We’re hoping that we can establish a firm footing for this awareness here at Georgetown, something that I know that [University President John J. DeGioia] is greatly interested in.”
GHAAP is currently conducting an ongoing “All You Need Is Gloves” drive.
“We are collecting gloves and fundraising for shipping costs and additional gloves to send to . a malaria clinic in Uganda. [Medical examination gloves] are a simple product they are in desperate need of,” Toth said.
The global focus of GHAAP is countered by the local focus of the Justice and Diversity in Action house. According to Lowell Karr (MSB ’11), a member of the JDA house, the group was inspired by the Living and Learning Community in McCarthy Hall of the same name. Karr said that the JDA house pairs an emphasis on social justice with a specific focus on the D.C. area.
“We plan to have events and talks centered around the problems that plague D.C. but that are either not noticed by students or are masked by the city,” Karr said.
The Office of Residence Life lists several other Magis Row houses focused on social inequity within D.C. The Nobody Home group aims to raise awareness of the widespread problem of D.C. homelessness. The Latina for the Advancement of D.C.’s Youth house aims to assist disadvantaged D.C. students through community service. Similarly, the Hip Hop Justified house has stated a commitment to positively reframe the hip-hop movement and to use hip-hop music as a tool for promoting social justice in the D.C. community.
In spite of the thematic relationships among the houses, however, some participants have acknowledged a lack of collaboration within Magis Row.
“I actually feel that this is one area where Magis Row as a whole could improve,” Toth said. “We really don’t know too much about what the other houses are doing -occasionally we get an e-mail about another house’s program . but these are infrequent.”
A more connected residential community, however, may be on the horizon.
“[The JDA house] and Magis Row will be involved in Fannie Mae’s Help the Homeless campaign and walk later in November,” Karr said.
Toth said that he hopes collaboration among the Magis Row houses will increase.
“I feel that everyone is working to try and get things in order during this first semester, and that this will definitely improve next semester and in the coming years,” Toth said.
Houses will include Carroll House, Nobody Home, Georgetown Green House, Latinas for the Advancement of DC’s Youth, Education and Literacy in the Washington DC Community, Georgetown Minority Achievement Community, Beyond Georgetown: Minorities at Work, Justice and Diversity in Action, Catholic Social Justice Community, Community for Academic Integrity, Hip Hop Justified, The Global Health Awareness and Activism Project, GU Sisters for Christ, and Global and Interfaith Living Community. “