The Hoya recently published an article entitled “Professor Hosts a New Kind of `T Party'” (The Hoya, Dec. 5, 2008, G5) concerning an on-campus theater production about transgender issues vis-à-vis Georgetown University. We were utterly shocked by not only the content of the performance, but also by the flippant and anti-intellectual demeanor of its creator in regard to campus and potential criticism of her work.

The creator, Professor Natsu Onoda, deliberately skirts possible objections to her “art” with the supposedly cunning argument that anything promoting “tolerance and acceptance” is in line with Jesuit values. This frivolous statement indicates a flighty finality in the face of serious objections, which does not reflect well upon a professor at this university. For instance, it is hard to imagine a show in which dolphins mount people being in line with the values of a Jesuit university. In Onoda’s remarks, we find an insidious suggestion that the Jesuit position is somehow different from that of the Church. This is absurd.

We believe that the kind of behavior demonstrated in this performance is actually harmful to the people it wishes to represent. Rather than presenting a hopeful or dignified image of homosexuals, it actually treats them rather frivolously. If Onoda’s intention was to defend this lifestyle, her work does not make this clear.

Onoda makes a comment that her work is “an important contribution to a campus that is not progressive. It presents a model of activism that isn’t dogmatic.” This choice of words seems calculated to obliquely condemn the religious heritage of this university.

We question what her vision of a “progressive” campus would look like. It is not the responsibility of Georgetown University to acquiesce to the whims of the self-appointed representatives of progress. When change comes to Georgetown, it should be to further the goals of education of the whole person and not merely a celebration of excess.

atthew Cantirino (COL ’11) and Michael Desnick (COL ’11)

Student Fellows, The Tocqueville Forum on the Roots of American Democracy

Jan. 7, 2009

Georgetown students are good at many things, and complaining is no exception. Lauinger library is an easy target. In “First Things First: GU Must Address the Lauinger Problem” (The Hoya, Dec. 5, 2008, A2) The Hoya piles it on, arguing that the dreary state of the library is the reason for Georgetown’s “academic stagnancy.”

Indeed, Georgetown may be falling short of the mark. But it is absurd to claim that Lauinger Library is responsible for this.

To be sure, leaking ceilings and inadequate study space are problems. But they remind me of my father’s stories about walking to school in the driving snow. There was only light rain at my high school, but the facilities were in worse condition than Lauinger and my study space was the kitchen table. The same goes for many other Georgetown students, but we were motivated enough to make it to a competitive university. Either Georgetown students suddenly lose their drive as they enter college, or the problem runs deeper than a lack of mahogany and couches.

One thing Georgetown does lack is Bs and Cs. Georgetown students study less than students at peer institutions, but almost half of grades given are As and roughly one-third to one-half graduate with honors. Another problem is the notion that Georgetown is supposed to produce professionals. As a senior in the School of Foreign Service, it pains me to say that I often find that classes offered in the SFS focus on developing expertise, whereas traditional humanities classes more frequently challenge my assumptions about the world. What’s more, in the rush for D.C. internships it’s easy to forget the real purpose of a university education: to plumb the deeper questions, like whether the street to my father’s school could really have been uphill both ways.

Jeffrey Durkin (SFS ’09)

Dec. 6, 2008

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