Summer Quick Hits
Harriette Hemmasi will now lead all branches of the Georgetown University library system, according to a June 19 news release. Hemmasi previously served as the Joukowsky family university librarian at Brown University where she raised over $50 million for the university’s library and assisted in bringing the library to the digital age. At Georgetown she will oversee and direct all branches of the university library, including Lauinger Library and Blommer Science Library, which includes 3.5 million volumes, manuscripts and books. Former Dean Artemis Kirk retired in the fall after 16 years at the university.
A fire ripped through the beloved Georgetown eatery Wingo’s on June 26, leaving the store closed indefinitely. The fire began in the kitchen before rapidly spreading, requiring nearly 80 firefighters to put it out, according to a tweet from the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. When Wingo’s was established in 2002, it quickly became a neighborhood staple for students and residents. The eatery attracted customers for its extensive list of wings and dozens of sauces. Wingo’s acquired a new location at 2218 Wisconsin Avenue in Glover Park, and it is expected to be open sometime in August. As for the Georgetown Wingo’s location, workers are trying to reopen as soon as possible. “We promise to come back stronger than ever before!” read a post on the Wingo’s Facebook page in late June.
Addressing Georgetown’s History With Slavery
Beginning in 2015 with the establishment of Georgetown’s Working Group on Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation, the university has worked to reconcile with its association with slavery, after it benefitted from the sale of 272 slaves to a Louisiana plantation in 1838. Measures have included granting legacy status in admissions consideration to descendants of the 272 and renaming two residence halls previously named for Jesuits involved in the 1838 sale to Isaac Hawkins Hall, after the first enslaved person listed on the record of sale, and Anne Marie Becraft Hall, after a free black educator in the Georgetown area. Descendants of Isaac Hawkins, represented by the GU272 Isaac Hawkins Legacy group, proposed in January that the university should provide financial reparations to the descendants. The Legacy of the GU272 Alliance is also pushing for financial reparations in the form of a scholarship fund to be used by descendants to pay for Georgetown or a state university of the student’s choosing. University spokespeople have stated that Georgetown will continue to work with descendants in reconciliation efforts but have not stated what those efforts will include.
Swastikas Found in Resident Halls
In September, painted swastikas were found in two different resident halls on campus on three different occasions. First, in early September, a swastika was found carved into an elevator of Village C West. Shortly after, swastikas were found painted in a LXR Hall elevator and women’s restroom. In response to the incidents, the Georgetown University Police Department launched an investigation that included interviews to determine the person responsible, but in an interview with The Hoya in December, GUPD Police Chief Jay Gruber said the investigation was still ongoing and a suspect was not identified. After the incidents, GUPD increased security and installed cameras in the LXR Hall, but some students felt that the university could have done more to combat the anti-Semitic actions that occurred in September. Jessica Keller (COL ’20), the president of J Street U Georgetown, a pro-Israeli student group, thought the university should have taken stronger action. “It appears that actions of anti-Semitism and misogyny have only been bolstered by the inability of our society to condemn this hateful rhetoric, and I believe that more must be done, both by the administration and by other student organizations, to combat this threat,” Keller wrote in an email to The Hoya in December.
Students, Administrators Stand with DACA Recipients
After President Donald Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program last September, Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia reaffirmed that Georgetown would continue to protect students without documentation, commonly referred to as “Dreamers.” Throughout the 2017-18 academic year, students and university administrators demonstrated their dedication to upholding this promise, starting a letter-writing campaign called “Friends of Dreamers” to encourage members of Congress to support permanent legislation to replace DACA. The Georgetown University Student Association sponsored a weeklong campaign to support DACA recipients called #GUHereToStay, which included a letter-writing campaign, phone bank and other advocacy efforts aiming to engage students. After Congress did not pass permanent legislation by DACA’s March 5 expiration date, the university maintained that it would continue to support students without documentation. April’s UndocuWeek continued the efforts to support those students at Georgetown, with events including movie screenings and discussions meant to dispel stereotypes about immigrants.
Sexual Assault Task Force Recommendations
A number of new policies to prevent sexual assault were put in place in fall 2017 after the university’s Sexual Assault and Misconduct Task Force finalized its set of 11 recommendations. Among the new changes were the establishment of “Bringing in the Bystander,” a training program for all first-year students training them in sexual misconduct prevention, and the creation of an online resource center and misconduct reporting form. Health Education Services also hired a new staff clinician and sexual assault specialist to expand the number of available resources to assist survivors. Other recommendations included expanding sexual assault response training for all GUPD officers and encouraging a more open club culture on campus. The spring 2016 creation of the task force and the group’s subsequent recommendations came in response to the January 2016 Sexual Assault and Misconduct Climate Survey, which revealed that one in three women, one in three transgender, genderqueer and non-conforming students and one in nine men reported experiencing non-consensual sexual contact as a result of physical force or incapacitation.
Georgetown University Student Association
Georgetown University Student Association President Sahil Nair (SFS ’19) and Vice President Naba Rahman (SFS ’19) won the Feb. 22 GUSA executive election by a razor-thin margin of 36 votes. Results from a poll conducted by The Hoya days before the election showed Nair and Rahman narrowly leading the race, over the second-place presidential and vice-presidential candidates, Josh Sirois (SFS ’20) and Casey Doherty (COL ’20). Nair and Rahman, who met their senior year of high school at a national debate competition, are the third consecutive nonwhite GUSA executive pair. Though the pair had less GUSA experience than Sirois and Doherty, their platform relied heavily on ensuring that every student’s voice is heard, evident in their platform “Because Every Voice Matters.” Thirty-five senior leadership and cabinet positions, which are made up of students who applied and were chosen by Nair and Rahman to help support the administration’s policy goals, complete Nair and Rahman’s team. In addition to those 35 senior leadership positions, 18 senate members were elected in April. This year was the first year senators were elected in April, rather than in the fall, which is a result of the passage of a set of referendums that upended the voting policy.
Tar Sand Extraction Divestment
The university will divest from companies that support the extraction of tar sands, as it violates Georgetown’s Socially Responsible Investing Policy, university administrators announced at a meeting in early June following proposals from university student group Georgetown University Fossil Free. Tar sands are a mix of different substances, including sand, water and clay; tar sand extraction is similar to coal mining. The committee of university administrators decided that investing in companies that support tar sand extraction violates the investment policy due to the harmful environmental and community effects tar sand extraction can pose. The activity also violates the university’s principle of “protection of human life and dignity,” as extraction disproportionately affects “indigenous people from First Nations communities,” according to the press release. Georgetown’s decision to divest from tar sand extraction joins other universities that have divested, such as the University of Oxford and the University of California system.
U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), former Vice President Al Gore, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus all came to campus during the academic year, all touching on a variety of topics. Pelosi emphasized the importance of unified political parties, Al Gore addressed the future of the environment, Albright talked about the her new book and Priebus analyzed President Donald Trump’s unconventional governing style.