Students of Georgetown, Inc., closed its on-campus shops and storefronts for 17 minutes in support of the National Walkout to End Gun Violence on Wednesday morning.

The walkout commemorated the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, when a former student opened fire on students and teachers. Exactly one month after the shooting, students and organizers staged walkouts nationwide, including at Georgetown, where student organizers held a walkout in Healy Circle.

Georgetown’s protest advocating for school safety and gun violence prevention was one of 3,136 student-organized marches across the country, according to EMPOWER, the group behind the national school walkout and the organizing group of the national Women’s March activist group.

KEENAN SAMWAY FOR THE HOYA The Corp closed its storefronts for 17 minutes Wednesday in accordance with the National Walkout against gun violence.

The Corp’s participation in the walkout demonstrates of its history of activism. As the self-acclaimed largest student-run non-profit in the world, the student group’s history began with advocacy efforts following the injury of multiple students in the May Day Protests against the Vietnam War in 1971.

Roger Cochetti (SFS ’72) and Nancy Kent (CAS ’72), who were student body president and vice president, respectively, created The Corp to provide a legal entity for these protesting students to file lawsuits against the school. The Corp sold food and drinks in Red Square to raise funds to support this legal enterprise. However, as time passed the Corp focused more on providing student services rather than legal support.

Corp CEO Alex Gong (SFS ’20) said the decision to participate in the walkout emerged from social media discourse and requests of participation from Georgetown students. Gong said The Corp’s history of student advocacy and student service has been lost in recent years, but the new leadership is working to return the nonprofit to its original purpose.

“We wanted to return to our roots a little bit and reclaim the advocacy sphere that we were founded in,” Gong said in an interview with The Hoya. “We heard about [the walkout] online through social media, and we thought it would be a really great opportunity to get back to in the spirit in which we started.”

The decision to close its stores for 17 minutes came out of a desire to stand in solidarity with the Georgetown community and support other student groups, according to Gong.

“We thought it would be really cool to stand with other students at Georgetown who had reached out to us and asked us if we wanted to be involved,” Gong said. “We thought that would be a nice, appropriate and symbolic way to show our support for students.”

Ari Goldstein (COL ’18), historian of the Georgetown University Student Association and member of The Corp, was excited by the group’s participation in the walkout.

“The Corp’s involvement today in the walkout for gun violence was awesome. It was a testament to The Corp’s willingness to get involved,” Goldstein said in an interview with The Hoya.
Gong said The Corp’s community-centered ethos is at the core of student group’s activities.

“I’d like to emphasize that, to me, the true spirit of The Corp is giving back and empowering students, not only through professional opportunities by being employed in The Corp, but I think a lot of people don’t know that every year we give out $85,000 in grants and scholarships right back into the Georgetown community,” Gong said.

Goldstein echoed Gong’s views adding that The Corp’s image on campus does not encompass all its social impact efforts.

“The Corp, more so than almost any organization on campus, has a reputation that eschews its actual mission and founding story is extremely rooted in social action,” Goldstein said. “That gets lost in part because of reputational issues, but I also think it’s lost in part because of the cultural issues.”

The Corp plans to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2021 and tradition in the Georgetown community.
Gong said The Corp’s participation in this walkout is just the beginning of the nonprofit’s efforts to return to its student advocacy and student service roots.

“The Corp is trying to change and is changing,” Gong said. “We’ve started a lot of initiatives internally and externally to improve our inclusivity and our culture and find ways to make us more positive contributors to campus.”

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