Inspired by the dialogue of the #BBGU campaign, Georgetown students provided personal experiences, thoughts and questions about their life at Georgetown University as students of color through the #BLGU and #BAGU campaigns. The former, on Dec. 12, focused on issues related to Georgetown’s Latino community, while the latter, on Dec. 16, highlighted the Asian and Pacific Islander communities.
“Taking time out of your studies to tweet because you want your voice to be heard @BLGU_ #BLGU #BLGU_” —Viviana Jaramillo Balbin (MSB ’15)
Organizers of both #BAGU and #BLGU were motivated by recent dialogues and took to social media. Both events utilized sites such as Facebook and Twitter to spread awareness of the events and personal experiences of participants. #BAGU coincidentally followed the popular #NotYourAsianSidekick, started the day before, which helped to publicize the event.
#BLGU additionally reached out to the community using social media to promote the event.
“Our hopes were manifold: Raise awareness amongst students, faculty, administrators and alumni with regards to the Latina/o experience; create solidarity in the Latina/o community; attain recognition by administrators, that they pay attention to the concerns of the Latina/o community,” #BLGU organizer Kevin Magana (COL ’14) wrote in an email. He also mentioned attracting the alumni community and inspiring peer institutions to create similar events.
Using social media as a medium for the events additionally allowed participants to build off each other’s experiences.
“Though the event was simply tweeting and posting about the experiences of being in a specific minority group, I think it really helped members from different communities to realize that we all have common threads,” Vietnamese Student Association President Anthony Do (NHS ’15), who organized #BAGU, said.
Participants felt that the online nature of the event allowed them to comfortably post their thoughts.
“We’re using these hashtag campaigns because we don’t feel there’s a … space on campus where we can engage in this type of dialogue and be honest about it” Aya Waller-Bey (COL ’14), who orchestrated the #BBGU, said.
“Didn’t really notice the color of my skin or how thin my wallet is until I came here to @Georgetown. #BAGU” —Anthony Do (NHS ’15)
Students tweeted and posted about personal experiences, both positive and negative, relating to their race in the Georgetown community.
“In terms of content, the inspiration simply came from personal experiences. The APIA community is often associated with being the ‘model minority.’ Along with that, people often believe that we are not marginalized and do not experience disparities,” Do wrote in an email.
Through these online protests, Georgetown students have taken the initiative to spread awareness about their cause and to start a necessary conversation about diversity.
“I would love for everyone who feels like their identity has yet to be represented to do [something similar]. The reason why all this has happened in such quick succession is people are motivated for change and that this is a conversation that should be had now,” Claytia Gonsalves (SFS ’15), who helped Waller-Bey with publicizing #BBGU, said.
“‘Why are you hashtagging BAGU? Indians aren’t Asian.’ Thanks, but we’ll decide what we are and aren’t. #BAGU” —Prayuj Pushkarna (SFS ’17)
The #BAGU Twitter feed also addressed the controversial topic of what it means exactly for a person to consider him or herself Asian.
“I think the fact that we’re all in one label of ‘Asian,’ what happens is it makes certain groups invisible. A lot of it applies more to East Asians, whereas I am Vietnamese and identify as Southeast Asian Vietnamese American,” Linh Tran (COL ’15), a member of the VSA and East Coast Asian American Student Union, said. “Our history is based on immigration … so it sort of sets us different from other groups within the Asian community. I think it’s important because no one knows about it.”
“Bleeding #hoya blue, but also #BLGU_ #BLGU” —Sarah Audelo (SFS ’06)
Participants in both events hope #BLGU and #BAGU will help spread awareness among both the student body and the administration for these student concerns about diversity.
“A long-term goal was to catch the attention of the university and show them that these issues are important. I love Georgetown, I bleed Hoya Blue, and I will be proud to hold a Georgetown degree,” Do wrote. “I really want to see Georgetown as a whole practice Cura Personalis and be inclusive as a whole. I always wondered why Georgetown does not have an Ethnic Studies Program, so maybe these movements could raise it to their attention.”
The students organizing the protests stressed that these online protests should not be interpreted as an outlet to express negative feelings toward Georgetown. Rather, their aim is to improve the school they already love.
“The word ‘protest’ warrants a very negative type of opinion and people think we’re just criticizing and complaining and that we don’t love Georgetown, but there’s so much pride. … These protest and initiatives and campaigns are coming from a place of love for Georgetown,” Waller-Bey said.
“These are important voices #BLGU. We are listening. Keep the conversation going. @Georgetown” —Fr. Kevin O’Brien, S.J.
The conversations about diversity will not end after these Twitter protests. The organizers from #BBGU, #BLGU and #BAGU are still in communication to plan future events and action for the spring semester.
“Using the stories shared from these movements, as well as information that several other students have compiled, the goal is to create a formal proposal to push for some changes to be made on campus,” Do said. “Of course, the dialogue from these movements will continue. Some participants have been talking about starting blogs to continue the dialogue and keep the conversation going.”
Waller-Bey hopes that the different race and ethnicity-based Twitter protests can unite over common themes and goals in order to form a joint committee. Still in its early stages, the committee is entirely student-driven and will include the black, Hispanic and Asian communities as well as white allies.
“We’re currently looking for themes that were expressed in both the #BBGU thing, the #BLGU thing, and we’re hoping to do the same for #BAGU to from those types of experiences that we saw, be able to consolidate those and express more efficiently how we can solve those, what the university can do on their end, what we’re suggesting the university be doing and then propose different solutions in that manner,” Waller-Bey said.
The committee plans to meet early in 2014 to draft a proposal for the university.
“The conclusion to be drawn is that GU administrators need to act to make Georgetown a more inclusive place for its Latina/o community, as well as other minority groups. To overlook this would be to unnecessarily inflame passions and cause further efforts to gain attention towards these issues,” Magana wrote.
Hoya Staff Writer Mallika Sen contributed reporting.