To the Editor:

I learned from a college friend that the issue of the Stewards has reared its head again at Georgetown. As an undergraduate in 1988, I was working on an article about Fr. Joseph Durkin, S.J., for Blue & Gray magazine. Research related to the article made it clear to me that Fr. Durkin was the Jesuit sponsor of the Stewards and that Blue & Gray was headed up by many undergraduates and one graduate who were all part of the male secret society. In my final interview, I asked Fr. Durkin if he felt that it was fair to the women at Georgetown to support an all-male secret society. Most of the members held positions of leadership in student organizations, including key student government posts. He paused and then assured me that he never thought the organization had done anything to hurt anyone but did agree that its presence may have encroached on the advancement of women at Georgetown. He then wrote an open letter to the women of Georgetown that was published in The Hoya.

I have never written about this experience publicly, but all of my friends in my class knew that I found myself, unwittingly, at the epicenter of the “big reveal” of the Stewards. Several graduates who held positions at Georgetown, including the director of the Alumni Association, were revealed to be members of the Stewards. It saddened me that in 2013, an all-male secret society can continue to exist on a college campus where academic standards and Jesuit theology are held in the highest esteem.

We are taught to be “people for others.” The exclusivity of any secret society, especially one that draws its membership along gender lines, has no place at a prestigious university like Georgetown. I commend those who came forward to reveal the Second Steward Society and the potential damage such an organization could cause.

Though the events of 1988 were challenging for me as an undergraduate, they have shaped who I have become as an adult. I spent my first year after Georgetown as a Jesuit volunteer in Northern California as a volunteer educator. I have been an educator ever since. I view issues of equity as one of the primary concerns facing schools today. With my colleagues, I work to promote advancement for all of our students. I would hate to think that this sort of injustice persists at a wonderful place of learning like Georgetown.

Peg Dowley Donohue (COL ‘89)

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