During my time on the Hilltop, I have often heard students — who face frustrating opposition, lack of attention and bureaucracy that would make the Politburo jealous — compare Georgetown to a feudal kingdom. One may think that it is merely exaggeration, but if you allow me to tell you the tale of the Kingdom of Georgetown in full, I suspect that you will see the real-life “Game of Thrones” that has consumed our alma mater.

Whereas a true liberal arts university would represent democracy in many ways, Georgetown more resembles a feudal society. President DeGioia is the king of Georgetown, making major university decisions in consultation with a mysterious court of advisers — the board of directors. These decisions, made largely without transparency or student input, have long-term consequences for the entire kingdom and direct the course of its history. The Alumni Association’s Board of Governors should be the major source of advice and consultation, not non-Hoya elites.

Meanwhile, battles rage across campus as the heads of academic departments and administrative offices act as the nobles and lords of the kingdom. These nobles curry the favor with the king, constantly looking for competitive advantages and ways to gain resources and favor. The result is that the best interests of the students — their education and their extracurricular passions — are put aside for the sake of departmental politics. This relationship between the nobles and King DeGioia is most evident in programs directly under the president’s office, which have the most funding and receive the greatest promotion from the university.

Finally, and most importantly, there are the student-peasants. Our families pay exorbitant taxes in the form of tuition while we labor over the land for the sake of the land-owning nobility and king. The university faces a never-ending push to abandon its liberal arts roots to become a factory for producing undergraduate research and wealthy donors. Students are constantly encouraged not to grow as well-rounded and morally sound thinkers, but to slave away in research assistantships that result in a single mention in a footnote somewhere. A benevolent few faculty members, many of them being our beloved Jesuits, do engage students outside of the classroom, but these are the exception, not the norm. Meanwhile, the successes of Georgetown’s many amazing student groups and individuals are paraded around only when they reflect well on the kingdom and can attract more tuition-paying students.

Many students have deluded themselves into believing that this is not a reality. They may point to the Georgetown University Student Association, the infinite “roundtables with administrators” or IdeaScaleand claim that “Students do have a voice!” But how is this any better than the early British parliament, in which the common people were given a space to discuss and voice their opinions but in actuality had no effect on the decisions of the monarchy? Passionate and committed student leaders are pitted against one other in brutal GUSA elections, where valuable student energy and effort are wasted simply trying to arrange for opportunities for the administration to hear our voice. Georgetown students past realized that a real liberal arts university must be a vibrant democracy in which students, faculty and administrators all have an equal stake in their community and their alma mater. When students came to Fr. Patrick Healy, S.J., in the 1880s asking for more of a say in important school matters, he pointed out his window and told them, “There, go be in charge of the Yard,” the name for the grassy front lawn. Students did just that, founding the Yard, a forerunner to GUSA. Over time, students demonstrated that they could indeed democratically manage their own affairs to the point where all student organizations and funding were directed by the Yard. Likewise, take the 1963 student riots discussed in my Sept. 11 column, during which students sought more transparency and an end to the patriarchal nature of the administration.

If the university wants us to fulfill its mission statement of being men and women for others, students need to be freed from this serfdom. The feudal system divided society, repressing some and arbitrarily elevating others. To complete this grand analogy, it is not enough that we are allowed to appear before the lords and kings in court and petition for their generosity and approval; we need to have a seat in that court.

Yes, it is true that students — the peasants in our analogy — only have four years on this campus. But if the university wants students to have a vested interest in their community and to contribute to their alma mater “for generations to come,” then they should be treated like lifelong members of this community and rightful citizens of Georgetown.

Kevin Sullivan is a junior in the School of Foreign Service. GHOSTS OF HOYAS PAST appears every other Tuesday.

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