Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Black Student Affinity, Communal Gathering Space Opens

Blaxa Block, a Black student affinity and communal gathering space, opened in the LXR multipurpose room Sept. 30.

Blaxa Block fulfilled one of the 11 demands from Georgetown University Protects Racists (GUPR), a movement that arose from the university’s mishandling of a hate crime against LaHannah Giles (CAS ’23) in April 2022. 

In Feb. 2023, the GUPR campaign began working with the Office of Student Affairs to establish a communal gathering space for Black students, increase funding for the Student of Color Alliance and enhance the bias reporting model.

Melody Emenyonu (SOH ’24), a leader of the working group for Blaxa Block and Black leadership facilitator, said Blaxa Block will help foster community among Black students at Georgetown.

“I think that a lot of students who get admitted to Georgetown are super excited, super proud. And then they get to Georgetown, and they feel kind of left out to dry,” Emenyonu told the Hoya. “I think this is a good step of bridging this gap, making sure that people feel welcome, feel in community without having it to be pulling teeth or feeling like, ‘Oh, I have to create the community that I want.’”

According to a 2020 Cultural Climate Survey of Georgetown undergraduate students, 71.9% of white students strongly agreed that it was easy to find students with similar backgrounds as themselves on campus, while only 29.2% of Black students did. 

A university spokesperson directed The Hoya to a Campus Climate Newsletter released Oct. 6, in which Rosemary E. Kilkenny, the vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, and Eleanor JB Daugherty, the vice president for student affairs, celebrated the creation of a space celebrating Black excellence and allowing Black students to connect. 

“Purposeful spaces on campus afford the opportunity for our community members to have places to connect and to be alone,” the newsletter reads. “Our goal for both Georgetown’s Hilltop and Capitol Campuses is providing an inclusive campus community.”

The Hoya | Blaxa Block opened in the LXR multipurpose room on September 30 to provide a communal gathering space for Black students and student groups.

Blaxa Block will supplement Black House, a residential community for Black students that meets the needs of students of color in a community-centered space, without putting unnecessary pressure on the residents of Black House, according to Emenyonu. 

“The residents no longer feel like students, they feel like employees, like at that point they are living, breathing, sleeping work.” Emenyonu said. “The black communal space was supposed to be supplementary. So that way, instead of having these residents feel unsafe or feel like they don’t have their own space, we have a space for Black people to congregate, meet and just genuinely have a space where they can feel safe.”

Blaxa Block will also serve as a multipurpose room where Black Leadership Forum clubs meet, hold events and function as a general gathering place. It is outfitted with tables, couches and a full kitchen. 

Jaden Cobb (CAS ’25), Georgetown University Student Association’s director of equity and inclusion and a leader on all three working groups, said Blaxa Block’s current location in LXR is only temporary and will last until the group finds a permanent location that is central to campus and accessible to all students. 

Cobb said since the permanent location will most likely not be established for a few years, Blaxa Block leadership’s current priority is to ensure underclassmen can take over once they leave. 

“What we’re working on right now is to keep the institutional knowledge that this LXR thing is supposed to be temporary, and it’s not a long-term project,” Cobb told The Hoya. “It’s gonna really take institutional knowledge and underclassmen to really care about this project once Melody and I are gone.”

Sanchi Rohira (SFS ’24), an organizer for GUPR, said Blaxa Block will hopefully serve as a space where students can advocate and organize in the future. 

“We hope that it will foster programming, but we also know that it will serve as a space where in the wake of tragic incidents like one that happened to LaHannah, it will serve as a space for students to gather, be in one another’s presence, and also organize in the way that we had to without a space like this,” Rohira told The Hoya.

Cobb stressed the importance of continuing dialogue with Black students throughout the evolution of Blaxa Block and involving them in discussion on choosing the permanent space. 

“When that time comes, we are going to have another Black communal space meeting with the Black community as a whole and give them options that the university has given us, so that this can be for the Black community by the Black community,” Cobb said.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Hoya

Your donation will support the student journalists of Georgetown University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Hoya

Comments (0)

All The Hoya Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *