After several months of inattention and silence, the issue of race on the Hilltop is finally being addressed. Wednesday night, students gathered in White-Gravenor Hall to discuss issues of race on the Hilltop, building on a conversation that began and stalled last semester. Hopefully, this semester’s discussion will result in more than just talking.

Last fall, following the controversy surrounding THE HOYA’s coverage of a Jena Six rally, students gathered in McShain Lounge to discuss the status of race relations on campus. The meeting provided false encouragement.

That first event event, “Where Do We Go From Here?” sponsored by THE HOYA among other organizations, was long on opinion and short on substance. Students and faculty became engaged in debate but most spoke merely in platitudes. Attendees were passionate, but only a few offered real solutions for what has become an increasingly apparent problem at Georgetown and one that no one seems to want to talk about.

Last semester, several bias-related incidents and alleged hate crimes were reported on or near campus. Such events are particularly disturbing when students are involved, and more student leaders should take them seriously. Some leaders, like GUSA Vice President Matt Appenfeller (COL ’08), were involved in the LGBTQ working groups, but not enough student leaders publicly came out in support of the LGBTQ community.

During our interviews of the GUSA presidential candidates last month, only one ticket mentioned the topic on their own. And only briefly.

After last semester’s meeting, this Board suggested that tolerance among and between students could be promoted by encouraging undergraduates to spend a significant amount of time performing community service activities. We proposed the development of a mandatory community service requirement for all undergraduates to be fulfilled prior to graduation. By leaving the comfort and general homogeneity of Georgetown, students would come to expand their world view through working with people from other cultures, socioeconomic groups and ethnicities. Such programs would, we believe, create a constructive way for students to learn about other peoples, as well as about themselves.

We’re glad that the student groups who sponsored Wednesday night’s event made the effort to re-start this discussion. Such conversations shouldn’t have to exist on the periphery of campus life but should happen out in the open. We only hope that, this time, real solutions may come forward.

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