New Initiative to Address Diversity
Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 02:11
The Cura Personalis Initiative, a new student-run effort, will seek to address issues of diversity on campus and bolster students’ perceptions of the university’s identity.
Spearheaded by Guadalupe Fernandez (SFS ’14), president of the organization, and Zenen Jaimes Perez (SFS ’13), the initiative was launched in September, when students from the Georgetown Solidarity Committee and the Vietnamese Student Association began raising questions about the level of diversity on campus.
“A lot of clubs were already having these dialogues,” Antony Lopez (COL ’14), a participant in the initiative, said. “We had all had these conversations at the same time and just decided to come together and do something about this.”
The initiative aims to establish a network of students and alumni who are interested in discussing diversity and create a fund through the Office of Advancement that would allow alumni to donate money to programs that promote and celebrate minority groups on campus.
The group’s three main goals include creating a cultural and ethnic studies center, bolstering academic offerings in minority and ethnic studies topics and increasing support for scholarships, events and mentorship for minority students.
“We’re reaching out to [alumni],” Carly Rosenfield (COL ’14), another participant, said. “We’re saying, ‘We understand the way you feel. We’re trying to change that and we need your help.’”
Rosenfield added that Georgetown needs to provide more opportunities for students who are interested in ethnic studies.
“A student could go through Georgetown never taking a class [that is] not based on either the United States or Europe,” Rosenfield said. “Georgetown is very much behind its peer institution[s] in terms of the breadth of its academics.”
Unlike many of its peer institutions, including Boston College and the University of Chicago, Georgetown has neither a general education requirement for a diversity-based class nor an ethnic-based department of studies.
While the university offers an African American studies program, there is a difference between a department and a study program. A fully-developed program can offer tenure to professors, while in a study program, professors must attain tenure in a different department or remain adjunct.
The group raised awareness about their efforts at the Students of Color Alliance Unity Dinner, a gathering held on Nov. 5 that brought together students, faculty and administrators to discuss topics ranging from the role of racial and ethnic groups to ways to increase collaboration between SOCA and other organizations on campus.
The dinner allowed the members of Cura Personalis to get feedback on their proposals and garner support for their efforts.
“I was really excited by their presentation,” said James Saucedo (MSB ’13), a student who attended the dinner. “I saw the initiative as taking the [Student Commission for Unity’s] recommendations and bringing them back to campus.”
“The time is right for a lot of changes to occur,” Lopez said. “There are a lot of things that Georgetown does well. Our goal is getting them to work together, centralizing them [and] creating oversight.”
Initiative members are optimistic that Provost Robert Groves will be responsive to their efforts, citing his recent blog post about diversity.
“The fact that he’s listening — that’s a good first step,” Fernandez said.