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

Rally Draws Crowd for Cause

By Tracy Zupancis Hoya Staff Writer

Over 300 students, faculty members and staff gathered for a rally organized by the Georgetown University Unity Coalition in Red Square on Mon., Feb. 7 at noon to condemn recent acts of intolerance, allow members of the Georgetown community to speak about the place of minority groups on campus, and to submit a proposal drafted by the coalition containing steps the administration can take against intolerance.

The Georgetown Unity Coalition is composed of the Black Student Association, MEChA, GU Pride and the Jewish Student Association.

The rally began with a rendition of the Negro national anthem, followed by Erica Cannon (MSB ’02), president of BSA, leading the crowd in a chant of “no tolerance for intolerance.” Cannon explained, “we are here to form a united front including students and faculty . and hopefully soon the administration . in support of ending this epidemic of hate.”

Cannon condemned the idea that students commit acts of hate for attention. Instead, she said, “They do it because they can. The administration’s response is to form another task force, and assure us that it is deplorable.”

“What do we want?” she asked the crowd, and was met with cries of “code of conduct,” “respect” and “African studies.”

“We want proactive steps to stop hate crimes . we want consequences,” Cannon said.

Provost Dorothy Brown then stepped to the podium and explained that she was speaking for University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., who is currently in Florida. Brown read a statement written by the president, saying, “We as a community will not tolerate acts of intolerance . we are a diverse and welcoming community, we cannot allow ourselves to be disempowered.”

“We want to put a face on the administration,” said Brown, referring to her own presence and that of Dean of Students James A. Donahue and Rev. Adam Bunnell, OFM Conv. “Fr. O’Donovan has asked Dean Donohue and Fr. Bunnell to work with you for changes,” she assured the crowd.

Simon Stevens (SFS ’01), head of GU Pride, said, “We must not lose sight of the fact that D.C. has hate crime laws in place. We want them enforced.” Concerning the ideas drafted by the coalition, Stevens remarked, “These are not demands, but proposals. We want to work together with the administration.”

GUSA Sophomore Class Representative and Georgetown Chapter NAACP President Aaron Polkey (COL ’02) spoke of the aims of the coalition’s proposal. “Hate is tearing us apart,” he said, adding, “The way that you first find out about acts of hate is normally through the paper . it should be from the administration.” Stevens stressed the necessity to speed up the process of adapting the university’s rules to fit present need, and “differentiate between normal and hate crimes . it is everybody’s issue . the rules that govern this district are not employed here.”

Donahue was presented with a copy of the rules drafted by the coalition and subsequently took the platform. “We need to work together not only to make this university the best in the nation,” he said, “but to live as a community in peace.” Donahue pledged to work with student leaders and said, “The Code of Conduct needs to reflect the community . we must be proactive and respect the dignity and differences of the members of our community. We are here to learn together.”

Bunnell followed Donahue’s lead, saying, “I pledge the help of Campus Ministry. I hope tomorrow we will be equally as energetic as today.” Bunnell emphasized that even one act of intolerance on campus is too much.

JSA President Steve Glickman (COL ’02), referring to the two incidents of menorah vandalism in December, said, “I know people who began to think that Georgetown was not the place for them . then I see that these are the same people who stayed up nights to make this proposal.” Glickman expressed his hope that the proactive ideas within the coalition’s proposal and the consequences for acts of hate therein would aid in building a better community, curriculum and a more diverse campus.

“Aqui está,” said head of MEChA Hector Lopez (SFS ’02), holding up the proposal, “what I thought last night as I looked at this was, aqui está: Here it is. Here is a plan to build community . to combat hate.” Lopez added that he believes the proposal contains concrete history, events and steps that will aid in preventing acts of intolerance and lead to a more accepting campus.

The gospel choir sang two songs, followed by a speech by Protestant Chaplain Constance Wheeler, who called for the community to recall those who fought against hate in the past and spoke out against injustice in order that we might live in a better world today. “Today is the beginning of the healing process,” she said, “It begins with unity, love and support for the community. In the midst of injustice there is always healing and hope.”

Michaela Brown (COL ’03) led the crowd in chants of “no tolerance for intolerance” and “by ignoring, you’re condoning.”

Associate Professor of philosophy Mark Lance posed the question “What do you have to do to be a racist, to be homophobic, to be an anti-Semite?” and followed by indicting apathy, saying “Most people just don’t get in the way. so you don’t have to do anything, not one thing. Who’s to blame? Every one of us who do nothing.” In addition, Lance requested that students speak up and “commit to finding an institution that you find oppressive and doing one thing each month for the rest of your life that really pisses that institution off.”

Djenaba Parker (MSB ’02) read an original poem entitled “Stand,” which she explained expressed various emotions she has experienced concerning her own place in society as an African American.

A series of students and faculty members followed, some, like onty Cooper (COL ’00), who professed that this was “the greatest day of student activism I’ve seen at Georgetown,” sharing personal experiences of discrimination on Georgetown campus, and others calling for action, instead of apathy, on the part of students.

One student who attended the rally, Susan Pappy (SFS ’03), said, “I was impressed with the effort the student leaders put into the presentation and their proposal to the administration.”

Emily Shaffer (MSB ’01), resident director of the Black House, said, “I was encouraged by the turnout. Most people care about this, and it’s good to hear different student voices. It’s an emotional issue, and most people who come to things like this do come because they care. But the important thing is to get concrete results, even from people who don’t come here, and who don’t care. I’m a junior, and rallies and vigils and things like that have gone on during my time here, but what we need is something more concrete. The administration sees Georgetown as a bubble where students are not held accountable for their actions, as they should be.”

Department of Public Safety Director William Tucker attended the event, and said, “It’s welcome to see people come out against things that have been going on,” and added, “DPS is committed to finding people who commit these acts.”

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