While writing this, our final column of the summer, we recognized that in describing our experiences as students of color, we have been forced to reflect upon the highs and lows of our freshman year at Georgetown. Our perpetual criticism of this university has always stemmed from a love for it and a desire to see it be the best that it can be. In that spirit, we wanted to dedicate this installment to those at Georgetown who are perpetually underappreciated but nonetheless formative to our identities and successes as students of color.
The Center for Multicultural Equity and Access sticks out to us immediately as an integral component of our lives; we, along with countless other students of color, benefit indelibly from the CMEA. For students of color, pre-orientation programs like Young Leaders in Education About Diversity and networks like the Patrick Healy Fellowship are crucial. In an environment where we have limited abilities to congregate and discuss issues that are important to our identity, these programs ensure that such dialogue is existing and enduring.
This is not to mention the Community Scholars Program, a program run through the CMEA, which gives first-generation students — largely students of color — the resources and confidence necessary to find a semblance of equity with their more privileged classmates. Ultimately, CSP empowers these students to accept and share their identities alongside a network of support, allowing us to combat stigmas that say we are undeserving of our place at Georgetown. The CMEA provides safe spaces like The Black House and La Casa Latina that have cultivated relationships between upperclassmen and freshmen and allowed different communities of color to engage and learn from one another. The CMEA is, simply put, like a family: They are mentors, sources of laughter, shoulders to cry on and loving communities.
While the CMEA furnishes our identities as students of color, the Georgetown Scholarship Program is indispensable to our identities as low-income students because it validates our experiences. Obviously, we are appreciative beyond words for the significant financial support. Yet, much like the CMEA, GSP provides other kinds of necessary support to its students, such as information on financial literacy and other topics that were not taught to most of us in high school. GSP allows us to take care of our own needs and worry about our own futures. As students of color, we often feel that our experiences and feelings are subservient to those of everyone else at Georgetown; GSP gives us a boost, not to overshadow anyone but to reach equal footing.
While GSP continues to support and uplift Georgetown students, the Center for Social Justice serves as a bridge between the Georgetown community and the greater Washington, D.C., area. The CSJ is integral to the success of students of color at Georgetown because it gives us opportunities to serve communities that we identify with. It is a tangible way of breaking cycles of poverty and helps Ward 7 and Ward 8 students overcome institutionalized racism and unlock the powers of higher education. In a sense, the CSJ allows us to repay a debt that we owe to society: The number of students of color in higher education is much lower than the number of white students, and we have a responsibility to one another to fix that.
We would also be remiss if we did not mention the Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation. The revelations about Georgetown’s history remind us how hypocritical it is to limit black students’ access to higher education when our university was built by the labor of slaves. Moreover, we must continue to study how the legacy of slavery and the past atrocities that have consistently been committed against racial minorities manifest today in nuanced yet pernicious ways; for example, students of color continue to have limited access to quality high school educations, which in turn makes us ill-prepared for college. The group’s hard work also allows us, as students of color, to further our work as advocates for racial justice by reminding us of how much black students have had to overcome, and how much work still remains. The report forces us to understand the “long-term consequences of inequality,” as Working Group member and Georgetown professor Marcia Chatelain put it.
Finally, for those students of color who feel angry, irritated or simply tired in their time here at Georgetown, we want to say that we recognize you. We thank you for your commitment to this university and to your respective communities. Navigating higher education is not easy; sometimes, as students of color, it feels downright impossible because of the stigmas attached to skin color and frequent feelings of isolation. Yet it is in these difficulties that the university is forced to recognize our value. Our determination, our grit and most of all our love for one another may transcend race, but ultimately, they are virtues that come from our unique and oftentimes tumultuous journeys to that abstract notion that is success.
Hashwinder Singh and Khendrick Beausoleil are sophomores in the College. This is the final installment of Minority Report.