Each year, Georgetown grants honorary degrees to exceptional individuals who are distinguished in their field. Nominations are accepted from any members of Georgetown’s undergraduate and graduate schools, approved by the university president and submitted to the Board of Directors for a stamp of approval.

One element notably missing from the process, however, is a forum for student input. As Georgetown policy stands, students are permitted to nominate a candidate worthy of a Georgetown diploma, but the protocol for how to go about that is entirely absent. Emailing an academic advisor or faculty member could be appropriate, but neither have an established jurisdiction over such matters. Emailing the president directly is out of the question. How, then, can students make sure their votes are heard?

Georgetown’s burgeoning online discussion board, IdeaScale, could serve as a platform where students nominate honorary degree candidates. Universities like Columbia send out university-wide emails encouraging students who have a nomination in mind to fill out an attached online survey. The short survey includes questions about the candidate and asks students to provide a brief justification of why the nominee is worthy of the honor. Either process would ensure that students have the ability to participate actively.

Honorary degree recipients reflect the university’s educational mission and values, and current undergraduates who live and experience Georgetown are among the best people to gauge those qualities.

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