We are Georgetown. I, along with thousands of my peers, swell with pride at basketball games as we offer a single reason for our dominance: We are Georgetown. In this simple phrase, we Hoyas reveal a belief that our university is special, that something sets us apart. As graduation swiftly approaches, I have been reflecting upon the last four years in a frantic attempt to find meaning and purpose in my time at Georgetown, because I am certain that, unlike “Seinfeld,” this has not been a show about nothing. In the course of this reflection, I have tried to pinpoint what exactly makes Georgetown unique.

Of course, it is impossible to formulate a precise explanation of what sets our university apart, but a friend came pretty close when he noted, “Georgetown is both Catholic and American without being exclusively so.” These two aspects were present at our founding and have remained part of the fabric of Georgetown ever since. At the same time, we welcome and encourage different intellectual traditions that complement and challenge this heritage.

It is fitting that Georgetown was established in the state of Maryland. Lord Calvert chartered the colony so Catholics could practice their religion, and the Maryland Toleration Act of 1649 guaranteed this and religious freedom in general. John Carroll was not only our founder, but also the first archbishop in the United States, and his seat was at Baltimore. The Jesuits had been active in Maryland for a century and a half despite persecution in the wake of the English Civil War and church suppression in the 18th century.

The rich intellectual tradition of the church and the Society of Jesus previously formed the core of a Georgetown University education. While the administration unreservedly asserts that concepts like cura personalis and “men and women for others” underlie a Georgetown education, there has been a noticeable decline in the intellectual dimension of a Catholic education at Georgetown. This has been a negative development because it denies our current students a pivotal aspect of the heritage of our university and civilization.

John Carroll was a dedicated patriot during the Revolutionary War and a fierce supporter of the American enterprise. Education, the founders believed, was necessary for the success of the republic. “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government,” Thomas Jefferson once stated. The proximity of Georgetown to the capital bound the university to the new nation and to the success or failure of its republican values. Georgetown students became painfully aware of this fact when the Civil War tore apart the university and the college served as Union training grounds and a hospital.

This privileged position that Georgetown has also brings immense responsibility. Since our student body was a microcosm of the divide that the Civil War created, Georgetown had to heal this rift, and it buried the hatchet with the adoption of blue and gray as our colors. The number of U.S. presidents that have visited Georgetown is something we should be proud of, but it more importantly reveals the opportunity our university has to speak some uncomfortable truths to power.

Georgetown’s dual heritage sets our university apart from other elite institutions. How many other institutions embody the timeless teachings and wisdom of the Catholic Church, yet were so influenced by the Founders’ values of individual freedom and self-government? Georgetown has been an example of a university that produces the well-informed and socially aware citizens that make the American way of life possible.

I truly believe that a Georgetown education has an important purpose. Our university helps form good lawyers, businessmen and civil servants, but it should do something more fundamental. Education, as Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., has repeatedly told his students, should make an imprint on your soul. It should aid in the formation of not only good professionals but of good people. It should not indoctrinate us with information, but light the fire of intellectual curiosity.

We have been truly blessed to have received such a fine education, but now we must put it to good use. The Gospel tells us: “To whom much is given, much is required.” I hope to live my life as a testament to this truth and with the values that Georgetown’s heritage has bestowed upon her students. I further hope that future Hoyas treasure our traditions and continue to pass them on, so Georgetown students will forever have the opportunity we have had to attend a university that stands apart from the rest.

Stephen Kenny is a senior in the College. He can be reached at kennythehoya.com. This is the final installment of AGAINST THE WIND.

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