When a reporter from The Hoya approached me requesting my thoughts about the Black Enterprise survey that ranked Georgetown University ninth out of 100 colleges for African-Americans, I was apprehensive about talking to the paper, especially since the reporter who approached me did not even know the correct name of the Black Student Alliance. But, as vice president of the BSA, I felt I had to comment.

My wariness about the interview was compounded by my dislike for The Hoya, which stems from vivid memories of a news story about the 2000 Martin Luther King Jr. celebration which involved the BSA and was filled with inaccuracies and omissions. Against my instincts, I proceeded to answer The Hoya’s questions.

My initial concerns were confirmed when I read the article “GU Among Top Schools For African Americans,” published on Feb. 6 (p. 1), which omitted the last point of my final quote where I condemned Georgetown for not having an African-American Studies department and the SFS for not supporting its African Studies Program. I add, presently, that these factors alone deem Georgetown unworthy of its position in the Black Enterprise survey.

But just as The Hoya reporter ignored the second half of my comment, Black Enterprise must also have ignored these factors when tabulating its scores. The magazine states that nearly 1,000 African-American higher education professionals were surveyed on over 428 schools in order to compile this ranking. While I appreciate the opinions of these educators, they do not, however, attend Georgetown University. This fact alone makes their assessments, as far as I am concerned, less valid, if not unreliable, when judged against the opinions of African-American students at these colleges and universities. These opinions, unfortunately, were not enlisted.

Moreover, I do not trust any survey that is unable to provide accurate and easily-identifiable information, such as the school’s tuition. Black Enterprise listed Georgetown’s tuition as $23,088. Last time I checked a year at this institution cost approximately $35,000. If Black Enterprise is correct, maybe I am in for a big refund.

As an African-American student at Georgetown, who takes her classes seriously and is fully involved in university life, I feel that Georgetown’s ranking in this survey is greatly undeserved.

First, because of its lack of commitment to its African Studies Program. The commitment of which I write is economic, which comes in the form of hiring faculty so that more courses can be taught and so that the program can be adequately promoted.

It amazes me that Africa – three times the size of the continental United States; the place where man originated; the continent that was, and continues to be, exploited for precious natural resources; the continent that was the focus of an occidental, oriental and internal slave trade; the continent that is home to ancient civilizations as well as the largest number of languages on earth and a myriad of ethnic groups – could be so undervalued in the School of Foreign Service, which touts itself on giving its students an international education. But, silly me, how could I forget that the SFS’s focus is European and Western studies. Let’s not overlook the fact that, for the classes of 2003 and above as well as 2005 and thereafter, the required first-year history course is Western Civilization.

Georgetown also falls embarrassingly short in the academic arena by not having an African-American Studies department. For a university that was built on the backs of slaves owned by the Jesuit community (yes, John Carroll too), as well as having an African-American president, Patrick Healy, it is deplorable that Georgetown is ill-equipped in this regard. But I guess that I should not be too surprised given Georgetown’s track record.

Nevertheless, this fact is still difficult to reconcile especially during “Black History Month,” when the country is supposed to be remembering and celebrating the achievements of African-Americans in this country – as if the contributions that African-Americans have made to the United States can fit into 28 days. And, as if these contributions must be ostracized by being solely labeled “Black History,” as if they are not as important to America as the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

But, I must admit, one positive aspect has come from this experience with The Hoya and Black Enterprise magazine. The experience has reinforced two rules to which I adhere: First, be careful to whom you lend your words. Second, always be informed about from whom, and from where, you receive your information.

Shaina Jones is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.