Outraged by an e-mail filled with hate speech, hundreds ofstudents converged on GeorgetownUniversity’s Healy Circle topresent university president John J. DeGioia with a signed petitioncontaining a list of resolutions they wanted the university toadopt.
They included the addition of an AfricanAmerican studies major and diversity training for Georgetownstudents and employees. The resolutions were drafted at a town hallmeeting to address hate speech and promote racial tolerance atGeorgetown.
The anonymous e-mail, sent to members ofGeorgetown’s Black Student Alliance and the Georgetown chapter ofthe NAACP, contained racist and derogatory comments, opening with”Dear Niggers,” and calling for blacks to “go back to Africa, don’tcome back.”
University officials said the e-mail wastraced to an Internet address in Florida.
DeGioia promised continued vigilance againstintolerance. He described the university community as “open,diverse and inclusive” and said, “Too many people have worked toohard for too many years to create a unique community here.”
The March 1 rally was a continuation of ademonstration on the university’s Red Square the previousFriday.
The message echoed through posters andspeeches: “We will not tolerate hate on our campus.” One passionatestudent proclaimed, “This is not just another Red Square protest.This is a damned movement.”
“This is the first time in four years we’vehad a rally of this magnitude on GU’s Red Square,” said TiffanyWhite, president of GeorgetownUniversity’s NAACP.
Students from various campus groups, includingthe Black Student Alliance, Georgetown’s chapter of the NAACP, theJewish Student Association, and GU Pride voiced their concernsabout racial intolerance on the campus in light of recentevents.
For Deidre Moskowitz, president ofGeorgetown’s Jewish Student Association, the e-mail brought backvivid memories of a painful incident she experienced at a smallprivate high school in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“The words on the flier are etched into mybrain: ‘Those who will die by the white world’s superior and thewhite sword are all niggers, spics, dykes and bitches.'”
According to Moskowitz, at the bottom of theflier was her yearbook picture with a noose drawn around it and apicture of a gun pointed at her head.
Moskowitz said she knew that if racist actscould happen in that diverse Brooklyn neighborhood, they couldhappen anywhere. Yet she said Georgetown’s policies lulled her intoa false sense of security.
“When I came [to] Georgetown, I thought Icould escape from this incessant fear. Georgetown proclaimed itscommitment to diversity in every letter I received, on its Web siteand on this campus,” Moskowitz said.
Students from HowardUniversity showed theirsupport of Georgetown students through numbers.
According to Xana Sanders, president ofHoward’s chapter of the NAACP, Howard students came to the rally bythe busload.
“They wanted to make a statement of numbers,”Sanders said. “We’re trying to make this peaceful, so whatever theyneed us to do, we’ll be there in support.”
Sanders said the student chapters of the NAACPat Georgetown, Howard, GeorgeWashingtonUniversity, CatholicUniversity of America and TrinityCollege — all in Washington –had been working together all year long and would continue to do soto promote racial tolerance on all their campuses.
Brooke Frotson, a junior psychology major atHoward, said the rally at Georgetown was a good start, but that theeffort shouldn’t end there.
“Schools like HowardUniversity, especially,should show their support for the minority students. And I thinkthat we should unite across campuses to show our support againstracial intolerance,” Frotson said.
Georgetown alumna Michaela Brown questionedthe audience’s dedication to fighting against hate speech andracial intolerance. “How committed are we? Are we just acting onimpulse right now because we’re angry and we just heard thesestories? And, we’re angry so we’re going to come outside? Or are wegoing to join the NAACP and join the BSA and give them the sametype of support we show every party on campus?” Brown asked.
Singing “We Shall Overcome,” students marchedto the Alumni Association’s Board of Governors meeting to garnersupport for their petition.
The alumni would not sign it in the presenceof the student protesters, but Black Student Alliance PresidentVeronica Root remained confident that their concerns would beaddressed.
“I know something is going to get done. Wejust need to keep them aware of what’s going on,” Root said.
Charlene Carter, a student atHowardUniversity, writes for The District Chronicles. She may becontacted at firstname.lastname@example.org