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

Breaking the Deafening Silence at Georgetown

Life should be lived as the Italians live it, loudly and smothered in cheese. If there is one thing I have developed a penchant for over the past four years, it has been for cheese. Things should be floating, smothered in, or packed with anything from gouda to cheddar. To thine favorite cheese be true.

As for the “loudly” bit, the explanation wallows in the more deep and meaningful end of the wading pool. I disapprove of most quiet. There is, of course, a time and place for quiet – during a beautiful sunrise, for example. Actually, anytime that early in the morning warrants silence. Maybe after sex. Definitely in the Pierce reading room (Damn you people who leave your cell phones on). Sometimes on a plane, during an exam or when oulin Rouge is on TV. Those times are within the “shhhh” limits. But for all other moments in life, I truly feel that one should burst with expressions of noise. Loud noise. The noise can be laughter, humming, singing, talking, whispering – it doesn’t matter. I love it when people gesticulate widely. That’s loud. My need for non-silence could be termed annoying or point to the fact that silence makes me uncomfortable. Both are probably true. But my time at Georgetown has only reinforced my appreciation for unabashed, noisy expression.

In America, especially at a place like Georgetown, you have to be loud to be heard. Everyone is constantly competing for airspace. y friend even competes when he is sleeping in the form of chainsaw-esque snoring. I feel that the events that have defined my time here on the Hilltop revolve around people rising above the cacophony and using a bullhorn to have a voice be heard.

I am constantly humbled, impressed and sometimes horrified by the endeavors of the individuals who I have come across during this brief moment in my life. A common theme is that all too often people are silenced by intimidation, fear and bureaucracy. In this crucible of youthful energy and aggression, I, as have so many others, witnessed deafening silence.

My voice was taken away from me one awful night during my first month as a Hoya. I was not offered a choice in the matter when I was raped. I felt as if I were being stifled that night, and that slow process of suffocation continued until I finally had the support to break the silence and attest to what I had experienced.

Unfortunately, the violence that I experienced is an all too common occurrence, and this was evidenced by the amazing survivors and activists that I had the privilege and the fortune to meet and work with while at Georgetown. I thought I would be subjected to criticism and hatred on campus when I let it be public that I was a victim. The heartbreaking and beautiful truth of the matter is that I found a campus community that unapologetically rallied around me and used their voices to comfort, console and inspire me.

I have what I think of the quintessential love-hate relationship with this university. I love Harbin 9 and I hate the fifth floor of Leavey, which serves as the Office of Student Conduct. I am forever enamored with my study-abroad experience and the relationships that were forged during that journey and I encourage anyone who will listen to expand their experience beyond this campus. But in the same breath I cringe, however slightly now, whenever a prospective student’s inquisitive parent bombards me with, “Do you feel safe on campus?” and “Do you recommend coming to Georgetown for my son/daughter?”

I do think that you get what you make of your educational experience. But I think that in some instances it is only human to feel the gamut of emotions that comes with violence and seeking solace from it in a certain place. This place, our university, is where it all happened and it will always be tangibly charged with an electricity of the struggle to seek out a blaring truth in the face of silence.

Everyone has an experience in college in which they feel challenged and, as a result, their interpretation of reality is altered. That is growth. I will always be glad that this is where I would first learn the power of silence and feel the amazing force of its oppression. I am so proud that Georgetown will be my alma mater. It is the place where I learned the most valuable lesson: that actions speak louder than words, but words speak louder than the deafening silence of the oppressed. One voice, even a fragile, thin whisper, rises above the loudest violence – especially when that voice is speaking the truth.

Kate Dieringer is a senior in the School of Nursing and Health Studies.

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