Filling the Diversity GAAP

A3I woke up late last Saturday and had to rush to clean my room. The Georgetown Admissions Ambassador Program students were coming in 30 minutes, and I needed to get my life together before they arrived. I remembered the rooms I toured last year — decked out in brightly colored rugs and posters, with a smiling Georgetown student ready to welcome me.

Of course, my room couldn’t compare. I needed to vacuum, make my bed and my roommate’s bed, clean up a broken light bulb in the corner and make sure the place smelled nice. But after a few frantic minutes, I found myself sitting on my artificially well-made bed, as classy jazz music played in the background, waiting for the GAAPers to arrive.

As they filed in, I was treated to a rush of weird flashbacks from my own weekend on the Hilltop. I remembered the incredibly awkward “conversations” with my worldly future classmates. I remembered meeting my friend Zainab. And in those moments, all I wanted in those simple, senioritis-plagued days of high school was to be a proud student volunteer at GAAP.

And there I was last weekend in my baby blue shirt, watching apprehensively as an odd group of nervous kids and their helicopter parents walked into my room, looking around suspiciously as if they thought I had a dead body hidden in my tiny Village C West bathroom. After the group, or mainly the helicopter parents, asked a few standard college dorm questions, they turned to leave.

Just as the last of them stepped out of the confines of my dorm, one of the girls on the tour turned back to me with a nervous smile, pointed at the poster behind my head and asked, “Is that ‘The Princess Bride’?” Stunned at first, I quickly recovered and responded that yes it was, of course, “The Princess Bride” and that it was, and still is, my favorite movie. She tapped her mother on the shoulder and said, “Georgetown students have great taste in movies, Mom!” With one last look back at me and a final nod of approval for my poster taste, they were gone.

I got much more out of GAAP weekend than I expected, especially given my small part as a dorm host. Beyond a free T-shirt and a few brief conversations, I got a compliment for the poster that my RA spends so much time making fun of me for. Affirmation is sweet, let me tell you.

There is more to GAAP weekend than just the dorm tours, and unfortunately not all of it runs so smoothly. At the pump-up meeting before the first weekend for our incoming students, the GAAP board emphasized the huge difference that the weekend experience makes on prospective student attendance yield. Something like 70 percent of GAAPers become Hoyas, which is much higher than the figure for admits who don’t visit.

Yet there are deeper questions we should be asking. Who are these 70 percent? And at what kind of student is GAAP weekend aimed? We hear a lot about the lack of diversity on campus, and perhaps this can be linked to every part of the admissions process, including GAAP. I don’t claim to have any inside knowledge of the organization, but it is a simple fact that our community chooses not to highlight the diversity of Living Learning Communities or cultural clubs, for example. Dorm tours are all well and good, but it’s not enough to have a CAB fair with only a few tables. Georgetown is known for its clubs and the social life that is based around them — we should make sure that we are presenting this truly impressive part of our community in the best way. We ask why we don’t have a more artistic or diverse student body, but it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise when we don’t take that extra step to reach out and make sure that prospective students know that there is a place for them at Georgetown.

At convocation, this lack of cultural awareness is even more pronounced. Last year, I saw one speaker who told an admittedly inspiring story about coming from Spain and hoping that her younger brother can follow in her footsteps; the other, however, was a speech from a white man about his experience with the Hoya community spirit and the McDonough School of Business. These are valid experiences, no doubt, but presenting this man’s story at GAAP in lieu of another’s perpetuates the idea of Georgetown as an elitist institution. Certainly, much of our community has nothing like an “elite” upbringing, but it is important that we showcase the stories of students that our admits may find more relatable.

Georgetown has no problem attracting its traditional demographic, but GAAP weekend on its own isn’t enough for everyone. Let’s make sure that we make space for the underrepresented and unseen stories that our students have. If we do so, maybe, just maybe, we may finally reach a broader group that can create a better and more diverse Georgetown.

Nick Shedd is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service.

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  1. Sounds like your only problem was you had to sit and listen for a few minutes to a speech by ONE white guy. Poor baby.

    • Someone wanting to clarify says:

      I think what this comment is getting at is the faulty reasoning for GAAP’s perpetuation of Georgetown as an elitist institution. While I do believe GAAP has a tremendous amount of room for growth in showcasing and attracting diversity, I do not believe whether or not a white speaker from the Business school is present has anything to do with this path towards improvement. You may not think an MSB student has a perspective that is anything worth sharing, but it is a different perspective in the mix of many. This is a part of diversity; a combination of different perspectives and identities that make up a community.

      Maybe a little more research would have helped. That way, you could have pointed to and elaborated some real areas of improvement, like the lack of diversity in leadership or pinpointing which groups were not invited to the CAB fair.

      This article had potential, but frankly it was poorly executed.

  2. Student Who Works on Diversity at GU says:

    I was also very surprised that very few clubs/student organizations were asked to participate in the GAAP weekend CAB fair! But, GAAP isn’t the only time for prospective students to have this kind of in-depth introduction to Georgetown. The CMEA (Center for Multicultural Equity and Access) hosts Hoya Saxa weekend each spring to give prospective students from diverse backgrounds a feel for GU.

    Maybe the answer to this issue is to make Hoya Saxa weekend more well-known, or to include some of the discussion that Hoya Saxa weekend facilitates during GAAP weekends.

    Do some more research on Hoya Saxa weekend and other related efforts!

  3. “These are valid experiences, no doubt, but presenting this man’s story at GAAP in lieu of another’s perpetuates the idea of Georgetown as an elitist institution”

    So we want affirmative action for our GAAP stories now…

  4. What is the socioeconomic background and life experiences of that white speaker? Shouldn’t they matter to the author? Seems like author is engaging in racial stereotyping, as in “white”
    means “elite”. There are lots of white folks on food stamps, etc.

  5. Prospective Student's perspective says:

    I am a prospective student, and GAAP weekend was in fact, my first and only opportunity to see Georgetown University in person before the BIG decision. Although I loved the activities and the atmosphere of Georgetown during GAAP, I completely agree with the author and one of the commentators on 1) lack of diversity 2) lack of clubs/student organization presence. I attended SOHOP (Hopkins) before coming to D.C., so I had a reference point to compare the gaap experience to. While I had no problem with listening to the speaker (MSB student; actually, I was quite impressed), I did feel a lack of economic or racial representation in the student body. I am a minority. I am also from Los Angeles, California, so I guess my background renders me not completely fair because I am used to a certain (high) level of diversity. But, I believe in the power and value of diversity (this is one of the indoctrinated values at my school). Therefore, I was naturally and consciously looking out for different identities (more so, racially). At the end of the day, I still had not found another human being of my own race. I concluded to stopping a current student, and asking, “how is the diversity here?” in a very serious, concerned voice. Although this is not a testament to the level of diversity (certainly not economic, or other types of diversity), I couldn’t stop thinking back to my earlier experience at Hopkins. I am not criticizing Georgetown’s Gaap Weekend program, diversity-related committees, or anything else, but I do agree that GAAP has room for improvement on this topic.
    I apologize for bringing up SOHOP again, but there was an hour-long “meet the clubs/student organizations and other ways to be involved at Hopkins!” program in a huge green yard. I think I saw over 100 Greek life, academic, athletic, arts, service, and etc. It was really impressive and illustrative of what it means to be an active Hopkins student. So… Georgetown Gaap weekend committee might be interested in showcasing its student organizations and clubs more actively and aggressively for students whose gaap experience may be the first and only chance to feel what it’s like to be a Hoya.

    Worry not. My heart remains loyal to the Hilltop. Just wanted to point some things out.

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