By Rashid Darden

Has anyone else noticed that, on every day that the Georgetown University Step Team (GUST) has performed on this campus, it has rained?

The day of our inaugural performance, Friday, April 17, 1998, it rained heavily. However, by the time we performed, during the 11 o’clock hour on the Village C Patio, there was nothing left of the rain except a few puddles in the grass. On the day of our second performance, Friday, Nov. 20, 1998, there was a pretty bad storm. Hmmm, two storms in a row . maybe it was just a coincidence. We brought together step teams from all over the area for a show like Georgetown had never seen. Not only was our show the first time two of these organizations performed on our campus, but it also marked the debut of GUST’s stepping men. The show was a huge success, with nearly 300 people in attendance.

Last Thursday, guess what? It rained, and we performed at Late Night at Leavey. Again, we received warm support from the crowd of people that came out.

Last Sunday, we had to find our raincoats and head over to the Leavey Center again, this time for the Senior Class Committee’s Performing Arts Festival. Yes, it drizzled all day long, and again, GUST showed everyone exactly what stepping was – a form of dance that involves hand clapping, foot stamping and chanting.

In GUST’s short existence, we have come a long way. On Jan. 29, 1998, we were just a fledgling organization of mostly freshmen. We have now evolved into an organization of over 40 students, all bonded with the common goal of bringing unity and school spirit to our campus through the performing art of stepping. I am proud to be able to say that GUST consists of black, Latino, Asian and caucasian women and men. I am ecstatic to say that we do not discriminate, even against those with no coordination. I am overjoyed that GUST is what many organizations on this campus should be: well organized with exact goals, steeped in the traditions of the school and most of all, fun to be a part of. We took such a simple goal and made it into a reality. We have introduced stepping to this campus and made it into a viable means of showing school spirit. We hope that in years to come, GUST will still be around to provide that medium for those who need it.

It has been mentioned that, if some students didn’t know any better, they might think that we in GUST invented stepping. As you may know, stepping originates from African dance, and uses elements from military drills, cheerleading, spirituals and soul music. I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the originators of modern stepping, the black Greek community, who have encouraged GUST’s originality and individuality.

I also would like to thank the many individuals and offices that have assisted GUST along the way, including, but not limited to, the Office of Student Programs, the Center for Minority Educational Affairs, the Black House (the birthplace of GUST) and the Senior Class Committee. We also thank all of the step teams and other recently founded organizations that have given GUST support during the stormiest of days. Most of all, we thank the students of Georgetown University. Without the students of Georgetown, GUST would have no one to step for. You all show us support just by sitting there.

In the future, I see GUST stepping up to bigger and better adventures. I see us traveling to other schools, and not only stepping there, but also assisting our peer step teams in growing at their respective institutions. I see GUST becoming an organization that can help this campus appreciate African-American culture every day of the year, and not just during Black History onth. We are, and will continue to be, a force for positive change on this campus – on the days that it rains and on the days that it does not.

In closing, I would like to challenge each student on this campus to do what GUST did one year ago. If you feel something in your heart, if you feel that this campus needs a change, if you believe that something is missing from your Hilltop experience, then it is up to you to make that change. One year and one day ago, GUST was just the dream of one person. But one year ago today, GUST became a reality.

Don’t take my word for it; experience it for yourself. Georgetown is supportive of student endeavors, even cockamamie ideas like a step team. The resources are available. It’s up to us to use them. Consider this my call to action for all students who desire a change.

Rashid Darden is a sophomore in the College and founder and president of GUST.

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