Georgetown is best seen as a community. Although there are more than 7,000 undergraduates living and working on the Hilltop — and even more faculty, staff and administrators — we are all members of the same university, and our collective lives are best viewed in terms of community.2211073558

There are different frameworks for understanding how Georgetown operates as a community. Words like diversity and pluralism get thrown around quite a bit to describe how we come together despite, and perhaps because of, our differences. We hear about how our Jesuit identity binds us together in our endeavors; others talk about how student organizations are the motivating force in communal life at Georgetown.

Each of these approaches speaks insightfully to a different part of our life as a community, but ultimately each one is insufficient. The best way to think of communities is to incorporate each of these perspectives. Generally, the strongest communities are formed when a group of people with different experiences share a particular space, set of experiences and, crucially, exposure to some set of values.

Georgetown fits these criteria. We share space on the Hilltop, in classrooms, in dorms and in O’Donovan Hall. We share experiences: walking across Healy Lawn to Lauinger Library, trekking over to basketball games at Verizon Center.

Further, Georgetown’s undergraduates represent, to some significant but imperfect extent, various cultures, religions, ethnic backgrounds and belief systems. Compared especially to other Catholic communities, like parishes, Georgetown’s diversity of opinion and experience gives it a beautiful and fundamental advantage.

Our diversity of experience allows us a unique opportunity to create the best type of community — the type of community that not only brings people together, but allows for true exchange of ideas and dialogue.

What can we do to make Georgetown a better functioning, more flourishing community? We think the best way to improve our already strong community is to more meaningfully expose all members of Georgetown’s community to the university’s Catholic values.

Fostering a dialogue around the faith and the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola that engages all students — regardless of faith, or lack thereof — would provide students with a much deeper sense of what it means to be a Hoya. After all, the university was founded around a set of shared Catholic and Jesuit values. In one way, exposing students more meaningfully to the Catholic faith would strengthen our community foundation.

But it would also have benefits for each student. Thinking about the Catholic faith tradition would challenge undergraduates and other community members to reflect on what values and virtues they find most important in life. Certainly, this could mean a deeper, more fruitful faith life for Catholic students on campus, but it could also allow other community members to think about their own values and what role their values play in their lives. Meaningfully interacting with an internally coherent set of beliefs is an important and valuable experience that Georgetown should afford its students.

On many of the banners that dot our campus appears the phrase “Unity in Diversity.” But the banners might better say “Centered Pluralism.” Instead of promoting diverse identities and experiences for the sake of diversity only, Georgetown should promote the meeting of all the different kinds of people at Georgetown around the Catholic faith and Jesuit tradition of the university. Only when the community shares exposure to a common set of values can it function most fully, even though many community members will never and perhaps should never adopt those particular values.

To this end, Georgetown should more concretely and effectively expose each member of the community to the university’s Catholic beliefs for the sake of the community and each individual student.

Pat Gavin and Alex Honjiyo are seniors in the School of Foreign Service and the College, respectively. AGGIORNAMENTO appears every other Tuesday.

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