Last week, the September-October issue of The Fire This Time, Georgetown’s minority student newsmagazine, arrived on campus. The Fire, founded in 2001, has always contained thoughtful and thought-provoking commentary. Students who have not read it should do so – it provides voices that, as Editor in Chief Anthony Jones notes, are “lost and often unheard in mainstream Georgetown.”

When I ask people if they have read The Fire This Time, I am usually answered with blank stares. When I point to the copy on the coffee table in my apartment, the response: “Oh, I thought that was the Voice.”

Unfortunately, for some people, the first time they ever hear of The Fire will probably be in this column. And this column is the first time The Fire has received more than a passing glance in The Hoya.

Why?

True, it would be strange for The Hoya to report on other campus publications. It is generally preferable to let those publications speak for themselves. But, more significantly, the very existence of The Fire represents a failure of The Hoya. A failure that nobody seems to know how to correct.

The Hoya is supposed to be Georgetown’s newspaper of record – not white Georgetown’s newspaper of record.

The Viewpoint page is supposed to be open to all members of the Georgetown community – not just mainstream voices of white people.

Looking at the columnists of The Hoya one might think otherwise. Three white boys, three white girls and two white priests write the regular Viewpoint columns.

The conclusion, that seems to be implicit in The Fire, is that The Hoya does not welcome minority viewpoints, just as Georgetown does not truly welcome minority students.

It is an issue that strikes a personal chord because I edited the Viewpoint page for four long semesters, and I do not think I repressed minority opinions.

If The Hoya has had too few minority voices these last four semesters, it is because too few minorities chose to write.

But I worry that I am being a hypocrite. The writers of The Fire apparently do not feel comfortable writing for The Hoya, and similarly I do not feel entirely comfortable reading The Fire.

I resent the assertion in the most recent issue of The Fire that the textbooks I read in high school are “always in the context and perspective of white racist Americans or Europeans.” I was surprised to read that the “events during Senior Disorientation … are sadly marked, `White Only'” because I didn’t remember those signs. I thought any member of the class of 2005 could walk up to that table and get a Disorientation bracelet.

New Student Orientation, The Fire tells me, “only reflects the interests of the white majority population.” As I recall, the primary function of NSO was grouping people randomly and trying to get them to meet each other. The point I remember being most heavily emphasized at NSO was the importance of diversity.

Dennis Williams, the director of the Center for Minority and Educational Affairs, which through the Black House provides the funding for The Fire This Time, once compared a sign that he used to hang in his office that says “no whites allowed” to a confederate flag in the stained glass windows of Riggs.

What about Georgetown’s school colors, blue and gray? They represent unity of North and South – the blue that union soldiers wore and the gray that confederate soldiers wore. If a confederate flag is an automatic endorsement of slavery, then so is the color gray. What is the difference between that confederate flag in the window and the gray Georgetown t-shirt that I like to wear to basketball games? Perhaps we should change our school colors to blue and orange.

While these examples, all culled from The Fire’s editorials, make me extremely uncomfortable and even though I vehemently disagree with all these statements, I would have welcomed them to the Viewpoint page, as would any Hoya editor.

It frustrates me that I do not understand these issues. I do not understand why the talented minds at The Fire, instead of contributing their ideas and energy to The Hoya, felt that starting a minority newsmagazine was the best route to take. The Hoya will never be truly diverse if minority students take their opinions elsewhere.

Several times, The Fire talks about the university’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education. Yet it is a minority newsmagazine distinct from the “mainstream” publications of the Georgetown media board. It advocates the creation of an African-American studies major distinct from the extremely well-respected American Studies program. It calls for a higher profile for the Center for Minority Education Affairs.

Maybe I got the wrong idea from my history textbooks, but I thought those are precisely the sort of things that Brown v. Board of Education was trying to end.

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