“We are all fragile, we are all broken people,” Fr. Rick Curry, S.J. said in a tightly packed Healy Hall classroom Thursday evening. “If we connect in our brokenness, then I think we have a chance.”
Curry’s words captured the mood of students who participated in the first-ever “Hate Free Georgetown” week, which began Monday with petition signing and distribution of anti-violence campaign buttons in the Leavey Center. Embracing dialogue and its power to curb incidents of intolerance on campus, participants joined in a series of events that brought lectures, performances and a meditation session to campus.
Curry discussed the power of communication in addressing hate, drawing from his own experiences as an amputee. Curry founded the National Theatre Workshop of the Handicapped, an international acting school for people with physical disabilities. He argued that humans are linked by the fact that they have flaws, that they are imperfect.
Curry said many people avoid those with disabilities because they simply do not understand the differing perspective, describing any lack of active engagement with others as “sins of omission.”
For Dalvin Butler (COL ’13), Curry’s topic of disability discrimination offered lessons for other bases of prejudice. Butler said that the lack of dialogue about all types of discrimination only reinforced such intolerance.
“We’re in a society where many people don’t talk about certain things of that nature,” Butler said. “I do agree on how he made a parallel between how people in society treat the disabled and those who are homosexual.”
Donning buttons – which incorporated the peace sign into the Georgetown “G” – and dancing in Red Square, nearly 800 students had signed a petition pledging their support for nonviolence by Wednesday, according to Joshua Goode (COL ’10), one of the week’s organizers. While other programs in the past have focused on finding resources to cope with hate, this week-long event focused more on forming a culture that bars the development of hate, Goode said. The devices organizers used were artistic expression and the creation of dialogue among different members of the campus community.
“A big part of nonviolence is finding other ways to use that energy,” Goode said before Tuesday’s dance concert in Red Square. About 100 people gathered outside White-Gravenor Hall to watch performance groups, including Groove Theory and Ballet Folklorico. The event – meant to raise awareness of the week – mirrored a top goal organizers have set: communication among campus groups. When Ballet Folklorico performed, Groove Theory members interpreted the ballet soundtrack through their own dance techniques.
“I think that one thing we learned over the past two years is that the performing arts have a very powerful visceral effect,” Goode said. “What the arts do is they attempt to go for your heart.”
Thursday night, New York-based folk artist Mal Blum and her band performed in Bulldog Alley and discussed their experiences in the music industry, and Blum, who self-identifies as queer, reflected on her personal experiences.
The week concludes on Saturday with a performance festival in McNeir Auditorium. Goode and other event organizers compiled a list of six words relating to hate and have sought one-word responses throughout the week from students. Those responses will be woven into a written reflection piece that will keynote the performance.
“The emphasis of this is a community coming together,” Goode said of the reflection piece.
Artistic events like Tuesday’s exhibition and Saturday’s planned performance are especially powerful due to their reliance on positive imagination, Curry said in his address Thursday evening.
“The arts are about the life of the imagination,” he said. “The imagination is about the life of the human spirit. If you’re in a situation where you’re leaning on your imagination then you’re in good shape.”
Other events this week included an interfaith discussion hosted by the Jewish Student Association, a Georgetown University Grilling Society barbecue serving free burgers to the first 125 participants and a field day co-sponsored by GU Pride and Hoya Blue. Funding for Hate Free Georgetown was provided by The Corp, the Georgetown University Student Association, Nomadic Theatre, GU Pride and the LGBTQ Resource Center.
*Editor’s Note: The Hoya is a co-sponsor of Hate Free Georgetown Week.*”
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