DAVIS: Take Action on Pluralism
Published: Friday, October 5, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 5, 2012 02:10
For about two hours at the beginning of freshman year, Georgetown is everyone’s sanctuary. With the lights off in the McDonough Gymnasium, students of different cultures, ethnicities and sexual orientations hear stories about how our differences have brought us together on this campus. We follow up with group discussions, in which some students say they relate to the stories they’ve just heard and others grapple with the notion that the lives they once deemed ordinary have been polluted by privilege.
We all leave feeling as if we have developed an unbreakable bond, or at least an understanding of each other’s perspectives. This is “Pluralism in Action.”
Then, diversity sinks into oblivion — allegedly.
This is the sentiment felt by quite a few students at Georgetown. Last week, a protest in Red Square held by Georgetown Leaders for Unity and Equity bluntly stated that this university is “institutionally racist.” The school’s ethnic proportions do not reflect true diversity, and some measures to accommodate students of various backgrounds are inappropriately pursued.
According to the College Board, Georgetown’s student body is 11 percent Asian, 7 percent black, 9 percent Hispanic, 4 percent mixed-raced and 9 percent “non-resident alien/other.” Such statistics do not demonstrate diversity when the remaining 60 percent come from one ethnic group. The student body’s diversity may mirror that of other colleges, but that doesn’t mean it can’t use a bit more variety.
The lack of diversity among staff and faculty members is also unjustifiable. For example, out of all the associate professors who teach at Georgetown, we can count those who are black on one hand. Their presence is necessary for students of color, as we need to have people whom we can aspire to emulate professionally from a cultural standpoint.
The core curricula across Georgetown’s schools and majors do not require students to go beyond the scope of the world they choose to see. There are required courses that compel us to be holistic without demanding that we learn about one another. Examining our cultural, economic or social differences is a choice that is not highlighted and typically not chosen.
While it’s true that Georgetown is by no means flawless when it comes to diversity, this struggle is one that is going on at colleges across the nation. There has been considerable progress in this regard, and that should not go without acknowledgement.
And Georgetown does make sincere efforts to make students who are not the prototypical Jack or Jane Hoya feel more comfortable. There is guidance given to students who feel alienated because they have been categorized for their otherness. The Center for Multicultural Equity and Access was established to serve students coming from historically disadvantaged backgrounds. The CMEA organizes programs such as Hoya Saxa Weekend and Community Scholars, the former of which played a major role in my decision to attend this school. The university also offers a long list of non-exclusive multicultural organizations that promote awareness of diversity across racial and ethnic categories.
While we should acknowledge and appreciate these efforts, it is essential to recognize that there is still much more to be done. Over the years, I believe that Georgetown will become more active with its programming and initiatives to reach the diversity we desire.
Khadijah Davis is a sophomore in the School of Nursing and Health Studies. She is secretary of Georgetown University Women of Color. THE ETHNICITY OF FEMININITY appears every other Friday.