The Georgetown Voice, 5/20/2021

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S I S I R C N IO M ay 2 1, 2 0 2 1 T IC V E G IN D N E P M I E H T O T N IO T LU O YS L N O E TH : R EA L C S I S T N E D I S E R . C . D , N O T G N I H S A W F O S D N A . S T U N E O R H L T CE R N CA FO


May 21, 2021 Volume 54 | Issue 4


Editor-In-Chief Roman Peregrino Managing Editor Annemarie Cuccia


Georgetown's bachelor’s degree program expands educational opportunities for Maryland’s incarcerated population ANNABELLA HOGE



Housing justice means rent cancellation, tenant empowerment, and extension of permanent housing programs




Executive Editor Features Editor News Editor Assistant News Editors



Executive Editor Voices Editor Assistant Voices Editors Editorial Board Chair Editorial Board


Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Blindness dazzles in darkness—and solitude OLIVIA MARTIN





When neutrality isn’t enough: Exploring multipartiality in the classroom

Beneath the American sports fray, tennis’ Big Three continue to defy logic

Sometimes stupid cool shit is all that matters



halftime sports




carrying on

Why my OCD diagnosis meant so much ANNETTE HASNAS

PG. 10

Georgetown’s ROTC balances training, class, and administrative hurdles NORA SCULLY



.C. ,D


photo courtesy of helen maybanks

THE GEORGETOWN VOICE Leavey 424 Box 571066 Georgetown University 3700 O St. NW Washington, DC 20057






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Copy Chief Skyler Coffey Assistant Copy Editors Alene Hanson, Julia Rahimzadeh Editors Christopher Boose, Jennifer Kret, Stephanie Leow, Maya Tenzer, Kristen Turner


Executive Editor Podcast Editor Assistant Podcast Editor Photo Editor

Arshan Goudarzi Anna Sofia Neil Alexes Merritt Nathan Posner


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Anna Pogrebivsky Alec Weiker Emma Chuck Katherine Randolph

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on the cover

The opinions expressed in The Georgetown Voice do not necessarily represent the views of the administration, faculty, or students of Georgetown University, unless specifically stated. Columns, advertisements, cartoons, and opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editorial Board or the General Board of The Georgetown Voice. The university subscribes to the principle of responsible freedom of expression of its student editors. All materials copyright The Georgetown Voice, unless otherwise indicated.

Nathan Chen Jakob Levin Ethan Cantrell Alex Brady Anuj Dutta, Michael Tang



“We must ask ourselves: Can true neutrality exist under institutions that ultimately privilege dominant narratives?”

Executive Editor Sports Editor Assistant Sports Editor Halftime Editor Assistant Halftime Editors Executive Editor Spread Editor Cover Editor Assistant Design Editors




Max Zhang Sarina Dev Sarah Craig, Annette Hasnas Darren Jian Delaney Corcoran, Annemarie Cuccia, William Hammond, Annabella Hoge, Paul James, Darren Jian, Allison Grace O’Donnell, Katherine Randolph, Sarah Watson, John Woolley, Max Zhang

Executive Editor Samantha Tritt Leisure Editor Olivia Martin Assistant Leisure Editors Chetan Dokku, Anshu More, Orly Salik Halftime Editor Lucy Cook Assistant Halftime Editors Isabel Hwang, Anna SavoMatthews, Abby Smith


A look inside GSP’s mentorship program

Annabella Hoge John Woolley Sarah Watson Ethan Greer, Paul James, Sophie Tafazzoli


Executive Editor for Resources, Max Zhang Diversity, and Inclusion Social Chair Annabella Hoge Contributing Editors Amanda Chu, Caroline Hamilton, Juliana Vaccaro de Souza, Abby Webster Staff Contributors Nathan Barber, Maya Cassady, Natalie Chaudhuri, Erin Ducharme, Blythe Dujardin, Danielle Guida, Kulsum Gulamhusein, Margaret Hartigan, Andrea Ho, Abigail Keating, Julia Kelly, Steven Kingkiner, Lily Kissinger, Josh Klein, Maya Kominsky, Tristan Lee, Cheyenne Martin, Bella McGlone, Adam Pack, Natalia Porras, Carlos Rueda, Hayley Salvatore, Nora Scully, Will Shanahan, Amelia Wanamaker, Sarah Weber, Katie Woodhouse

Page 3

An eclectic collection of jokes, puns, doodles, playlists, and news clips from the collective mind of the Voice staff.



Cicada who? Cic a da wait! Hoyas, rejoice, as our red-eyed brothers, sisters, and siblings return to campus for about six weeks! After a long and difficult year, the cicadas have come to bless our beautiful campus just when we need them most.

Congrats Seniors!

First-year students arriving for SHIP have reported that the cicadas have acted as a support system in this new and confusing time, often serving as not only their first contacts, but also their first friends on campus. “When I first got to campus, I had no idea where to get lunch or dinner,” one first-year student said. “But then, a friendly cicada came and let me follow them all the way to Leo’s.” After checking out the food at Leo’s, the first-year student decided it would probably just be best to eat the cicada, which she promptly did. In other cicada developments, a petition calling for President John DeGioia to be temporarily replaced by a swarm of cicadas has also garnered national attention by receiving over 1,200 signatures from the student body. “We need a fresh voice divorced from the old campus politics routine, and I can’t think of a better candidate than someone who’s had their head in the ground for 17 years,” one student said. The Voice had the honor of speaking with one of the cicadas this week on the condition of anonymity. “Bzzzzzzzzz,” they said, in a scathing rebuke of regional news condemning their arrival as a “nuisance.” The cicada went on to assure the Voice that no Hoyas would be harmed by their arrival, with one exception: “bzzzzzz Chunky bzzzzz Panda bzzzzzzz thrown bzzzzzz Potomac.” As of now, it is still unclear what the cicada was referring to.

cicada and jellyfish by insha momin, graduation by olivia stevens and insha momin

“The cicadas really are super cool, and you all would probably really like them if you actually took the time to get to know them. No wonder they hide from us humans for 17 years,” said one Twitter user, @N0t_a_cicada15. However, not all have welcomed the cicadas, whose arrival has brought to light deep-seated grievances of the local rats. “What have they got that we don’t?” said a representative of the rats. “First-year students don’t understand what we go through every year for them, and when the cicadas leave, we’re not gonna let them come crawling back.” When pressed on about this veiled threat, the rat declined to comment further. As the six weeks with our brethren slowly come to a close, Hoyas are left wondering how they can make the most of this short period of time. While this task is left to each individual, the Voice has decided to commemorate these new friendships with a photo contest. This whole summer, you can send in a photo of any Hoyas and their new cicada friends, and next fall, the winning photo/photographer will be featured on the next Page 3.



Halftime’s “Feeling nostalgic for a year that didn’t happen” Playlist

Peanut Butter


"At the end of the day Elon Musk will be dead or there will be universal broadband service." cicada and jellyfish by insha momin, grad and ear by olivia stevens

1. Fast Car Tracy Chapman 2. Pink Pony Club Chappell Roan 3. Astronaut Kids Hotel Fiction 4. Scottie Pippen Bren Joy 5. Only Time Makes It Human King Princess 6. I Know Tthe Etnd Phoebe Bridgers 7. Miss Universe Saint Ivory 8. Changes Cam 9. Till Forever Falls Apart Ashe, FINNEAS 10. Cherry (Piano Version) Rina Sawayama 11. JFK Ryann 12. New House Rex Orange County

MAY 21, 2021



Georgetown’s bachelor’s degree program expands educational opportunities for Maryland’s incarcerated population



hen Professor Marc Howard (LAW ’12) began teaching at a prison, he witnessed how hard students were working for a certificate that didn’t even give college credit—sometimes with better results than his main-campus Georgetown students in the same class. Now, a diploma is in sight for those students. After five years of operation, Georgetown’s Prisons and Justice Initiative (PJI) will be offering bachelor’s degrees to incarcerated students in Maryland. The new bachelor’s degree program comes as an extension of the Prison Scholars Program (PSP), an educational opportunity within the PJI that began offering credit-bearing and non-credit-bearing classes through the D.C. Jail in 2018. The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world, and, according to a 2016 report, in 12 states over half the prison population is Black. Maryland, a state that is only 29 percent Black in demography as of 2014, topped that list with Black people making up 72 percent of its prison population. Maryland’s overall incarceration rates stand out on an international scale, exceeding the rates of the United Kingdom, France, Canada, and other countries. Since the DMV exemplifies the racially disproportionate impact of the U.S. justice system, Howard founded the PJI in 2016 to respond to mass incarceration and high rates of recidivism (when convicted individuals re-offend), as well as the maltreatment of incarcerated people in the United States. The PJI was also formed in part to reduce racial disparities in education after Georgetown’s own history of enslavement. “People who are incarcerated have extraordinary talent, skills, intelligence, yet they’ve been essentially wiped away, forgotten, abandoned by society because of mistakes that they made a long time ago,” Howard said. The new degree program will operate at Patuxent Institution, a facility based in Jessup, Maryland, that has been commissioned as a treatment facility run by a psychiatrist, rather than as a standard correctional facility. Over the course of a five-year program, incarcerated students can graduate with a Georgetown degree



and receive recognition for the work they’ve done. “We’re really dedicated to rewarding students for doing the same work and rewarding them in the same way,” Howard added. “We feel that they are Georgetown students.” To launch the Maryland bachelor’s degree program, the PJI coordinated with all of Georgetown College’s departments and programs to design its majors. PJI Director of Education Joshua Miller sought out help from across the school and received unanimous support from each department. “Everybody jumped on board and we launched a new degree with three new majors basically from March to December, and in university time that’s unprecedented,” Miller said. “It takes years to get new majors off the ground, but the entire university just said, ‘Hey, there’s a pandemic going on but you know what we can do? We can do this.’ And so we did.” The bachelor’s degree program will allow students to major in one of three interdisciplinary fields of study: cultural humanities, interdisciplinary social science, or global intellectual history. Students will complete a set of core requirements, along with the courses required for their major, and must achieve 120 credit hours to graduate. Cultural humanities majors can take courses in comparative literature and theater; interdisciplinary social science majors can take courses in psychology and government; and global intellectual history majors in history and philosophy. “What’s it going to be like? It’s going to be like being a Georgetown student,” Miller said. “We’re trying to offer everything Georgetown offers.” This won’t be the first time the PJI has brought Georgetown coursework into prison classrooms. Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò, a philosophy professor, has taught a few formal classes, including Introduction to Political Philosophy, in the D.C. Jail. Táíwò experiences teaching within the prison system have shaped some of his views on education. While he’d heard about the school-to-prison pipeline, it was another thing to directly see the failure of social systems to support Americans. “It’s one thing to think in the abstract about different ways our education system could be set up and different ways that

illustration by max zhang

the current setup disadvantages some people,” Táíwò said. “And it’s another thing to go into an institution where you have students who are in very different circumstances than your other students, who are in cages.” According to Táíwò, the students bring experiences and topics to class that are very different from those of most main campus Georgetown students. “It’s been a really high-level intellectual environment that I’ve found going on in those rooms and in those discussions,” Táíwò said. The graduates of this program will have the opportunity to be leaders in ending mass incarceration, informed by their own personal experiences. Graduates of the PSP and Pivot Program, a PJI program offering certificates of business and entrepreneurship for formerly incarcerated individuals, are already leading voices pushing for institutional prison reform. Tyrone Walker, a Pivot Program fellow who graduated in the first cohort, has been working in justice reform since his release. “Ten to 12 years ago, prison reform wasn’t as popular as it is today with people who were formerly incarcerated,” Walker said. “Now, with prison reform, they say you don’t have anyone on your team that’s been directly impacted by the criminal justice system, then your team is really incomplete.” Walker took classes through PSP with Miller, who encouraged him to join the Pivot Program upon his release from the D.C. Jail. Through the program, Walker interned for the Justice Policy Institute, where he was

subsequently offered a full-time job. Now, Walker is returning to Georgetown as the Director of Reentry Services at PJI. “Because of my personal experience, I was able to really inform the work at the Justice Policy Institute,” Walker said. “To be able to give back to that and know that you played a part in helping people, to relieve these ills that they’re suffering from, is invaluable.” There are roughly 18,000 incarcerated individuals in the state of Maryland, according to Miller, and the degree program is going to run state-wide admissions, allowing individuals in any facility the chance to apply. Those who are admitted into the program will be transferred to Patuxent. According to Miller, the program is highly anticipated, meaning a high volume of incarcerated individuals are expected to apply for about 25 spots. “It will probably have an acceptance rate below the Georgetown main campus,” he said. The opportunity to achieve a college education, and a degree from Georgetown, is a game-changer for those who have been incarcerated, Walker said. There is a perception that programs like this give individuals a second chance, but for many it’s their first. “A lot of us had aspirations of going to college. I know I did, but didn’t know how I was going to get there,” he said. “To be in that classroom space and to be able to receive an education, it takes you on another side of life that most of us have never lived.” G


Housing justice means rent cancellation, tenant empowerment, and extension of permanent housing programs


ith the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) eviction moratorium in legal danger and housing insecurity exacerbated by the pandemic, the D.C. government must take action to protect the 7,800-15,800 residents at risk of eviction and the over 5,000 currently experiencing homelessness. Cancelling rent, empowering tenants, and expanding deeply affordable and permanent supportive housing programs are crucial steps to aid unhoused Washingtonians. Beyond their typical classification as economic justice issues, homelessness and housing are also key racial justice issues, making them even more imperative to address. Over 85 percent of individuals experiencing homelessness in the District are Black, despite the fact that Black individuals make up only 45 percent of the District’s total population. Systemic racism is a driving cause of this egregious trend, creating a web of reinforcing inequities. Racist policies in education, hiring, lending, and policing have impeded wealth accumulation in Black families. Black applicants for affordable housing are also less likely to receive offers than white counterparts with worse credentials. This drives a substantial racial homeownership gap that also makes Black individuals much more likely to rent—and be vulnerable to gentrification, forced displacement, and eviction—than white individuals. The pandemic has only exacerbated the racial and economic disparities that lead to housing insecurity and homelessness in D.C. During the ongoing moratorium on residential evictions, which began last September under a CDC directive to facilitate self-isolation, renters have racked up payments that will be due when D.C.’s moratorium expires, potentially as soon as July 20. However, many renters have no more ability to pay than they did a year ago, with 5.6 percent of D.C. metro residents still out of work and countless more working part-time or lower-waged jobs than they were a year and a half ago. Add to that the well-told inefficacies of D.C.’s unemployment system that have resulted in delayed and missing payments for half of claimants and the expectation that a year and a half of rent can be paid this July is not just unrealistic, but offensive. The only effective and equitable solution to the impending eviction crisis is for the District to cancel rent. Cancel Rent D.C., a collaboration between 12 local organizations, has put forth a proposal to protect both residents on the brink of eviction and landlords. Under this proposal, tenants who have been economically harmed by COVID-19 would not be responsible for unpaid rent, cannot face eviction for missing rent, and cannot be reported to credit agencies for not paying rent, which is crucial to long-term housing stability. Landlords, meanwhile, will be reimbursed

as long as they commit to a five-year rent freeze for the tenant’s unit. We believe this proposal must be implemented. All rental aid programs must also be implemented effectively. The city government’s failure to allocate over 500 fully-funded federal housing vouchers and a hard-to-navigate application process points to a deeper mismanagement issue within the D.C. Housing Authority and the Department of Human Services (DHS). When hundreds of eligible individuals and families are not receiving housing due to bureaucratic incompetence and barriers, something is deeply wrong. Likewise, it is not just the last year of missed rent that shows the injustices of D.C.’s housing market. Rising prices, limited tenant protections, lack of affordable housing, and gentrification are all pushing residents out of the housing market or into worse living situations, with more than 30,000 Black residents displaced between 2000 and 2016. The median Black income in the District of $48,700 is just one-third of the median white income, and affordable housing programs targeted at families making up to $88,000 often take away opportunities from Black residents who are extremely low-income. The failure of D.C.’s affordable housing programs to aid low-income residents of color makes it all the more crucial that tenants’ voices are heard as housing solutions are discussed. Yet just one tenant was appointed to Mayor Muriel Bowser’s “Saving DC’s Rental Housing Market Strike Force” of 31 members. The continued domination of the affordable housing conversation by developers and landlords misdefines the problem of overzealous and unjust evictions as “problem tenants.” This excludes the experiences of those who are regularly denied housing when they say they will pay with a voucher or a landlord sees a past eviction on their record. Bowser should appoint at least 10 tenants immediately to the strike force to better center tenant needs, especially the needs of low-income tenants of color, in policy. D.C. should also edit its Comprehensive Plan, an outline of the next 20 years of development. The plan was heavily criticized for failing to prevent the displacement of residents of color and for incentivizing gentrification. An initial assessment by the Council Office of Racial Equity found the plan would perpetuate racial inequity in the District. Even after updates, the plan, which was advanced by the D.C. Council on May 4, still fails tenants. First, the plan’s definition of “affordable housing” continues to be over-inclusive, obscuring the needs of the

design by allison derose

lowest-income residents, often residents of color. It also includes a future land-use map which gives developers wide latitude to operate in low-density neighborhoods, often pricing lower-income residents out. In their edited plan, D.C. should create a category of “deeply affordable housing” to ensure the poorest tenants are actually supported. It should also include concrete steps to enfranchise community members in the development process and ensure continued residency. Without more binding language or concrete legislation emphasizing equity and tenant protections, the plan’s promise to empower residents rings hollow. Lastly, D.C. must take action to protect and house those experiencing homelessness beyond the end of the pandemic. The DHS plans to end the Pandemic Emergency Program for Medically Vulnerable Individuals (PEP-V) in September. PEP-V utilized federal dollars to place over 800 highest-risk individuals experiencing homelessness into hotels, keeping them out of medically compromising locations like shelters. While the PEP-V model is supposed to move program residents to permanent supportive housing (PSH), DHS has relocated residents at a rate of only about 3 percent per month. By the scheduled end of PEP-V, hundreds of its participants will not have successfully secured permanent housing. PEP-V must be expanded, and its units subsequently converted to PSH, considered by advocates to be the most effective housing assistance program. Buying other hotels is an achievable additional step to take to increase capacity; a significant driver of the slow conversion rate is a housing shortage in D.C., with over 90 percent of eligible PSH units already occupied. The conversion of current PEP-V lodging into PSH is a key step towards creating more permanent housing options, a move that will not only be cost-cutting (saving the D.C. government more than $120,000 annually per unit), but will also take residents out of the control of DHS, an agency many have had harmful experiences with. Though PEP-V-converted PSH will not be suitable for every individual, its expansion will still prove crucial for many. More than anything, the last year has shown how vulnerable the population of D.C. is to housing insecurity. When missing a few months of work means losing housing, the system is not working. When people are still sleeping on the street as housing vouchers go unused, the system is not working. Our government must prioritize affordable housing, tenant protections, and effective rent aid now. We cannot afford to wait. G

MAY 21, 2021


A look inside GSP’s mentorship program Paul james


ince its inception in 2004, the Georgetown Scholars Program (GSP) has continued to grow as it works to support low-income and first-generation students at the university. In addition to financial and academic assistance, GSP has expanded its services to include wellness efforts, club partnerships, and, most recently, a mentorship program which began in 2015. The mentorship program was built out of a preexisting culture of personal connections and encouragement among first-generation and low-income students at the university. Claire Joyce formalized the project in 2015. With help from alumni donors and Dean of Admissions Charles Deacon, GSP Director Missy Foy (COL ’03) has greatly expanded the program’s membership from approximately 50 in its first year to more than 650 now. In addition to a widening scope of services, the alumni mentorship program has grown to build the necessary tools, interview processes, and guides necessary for supporting mentors. Since 2004, GSP has served over 1,600 Georgetown students. Though the program accepts students mainly on a financial basis, 85 percent of participants in GSP are students of color and over 70 percent are first-generation students. GSP scholars graduate at a rate of 96 percent, which greatly outpaces the national rate amongst firstgeneration students—at around 30 percent. A 2017 Department of Education report found Black and Latino students make up 41 percent of total firstgeneration college students, more than double the combined percentage for continuing-generation college students. Data from 2016 shows that the majority of Black and Latino students also qualify as low-income, defined as students whose family or individual income is below

150 percent of the federal poverty level. The demographic trends are tied to a history of mutually-reinforcing barriers in higher education and employment against people of color. The core function of GSP is to provide on-campus assistance to students accepted into the program. For some students, the program made an immediate difference, making attending Georgetown financially feasible and helping students navigate a predominantly-white and wealthy institution. “I remember my mom saying, ‘I don’t know how we’re going to do this,’ because I grew up in a single-mother household,” Julian De La Paz (SFS ’15) said of GSP’s financial support. “We received the financial aid package in the mail, and I distinctly remember the fee being waived to secure my deposit.” According to Traci Higgins (COL ’86), an alumni mentor, the university’s approach to student support, as well as the overall campus environment, has changed drastically since her time on the Hilltop, when the same resources did not exist for her and other students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. “I was a GSPer before there was GSP, a first-generation low-income student back in August of 1982,” Higgins said. “And I certainly understood what that all meant.” Since Higgins’s time at Georgetown, community support has evolved past the initial scholarship and funding grants. “Back in the day, the focus was just getting people here and thinking that that was enough, but now we understand that it’s ‘to and through,’” she said, referring to past scholarship and funding grants, but lack of sustained programs and initiatives.


design by alex giorno


Now, GSP offers continuous structures of support for first-generation and low-income students, including relationships between members of the community on and off campus. During his pre-orientation program, De La Paz met many other incoming and current GSP students, even though the two-week program was unaffiliated with GSP. Though the connections were informal, he remembers support systems springing from those interactions. Deven Comen (COL ’12), De La Paz’s mentor, experienced a similar phenomenon during her time at Georgetown, as alumni and members of the program informally shared advice and counsel within a community environment. As she stays connected to the program, Comen has seen more acknowledgement from Georgetown that being a first-gen, low-income student comes with specific challenges, and willingness from GSP students to speak up for their needs. “I was on the student board when I was at Georgetown, and at that point, no one wanted to be outed as first-gen and low-income,” she said. Comen recalled an incident when a donor wanted to buy GSP students Georgetown sweatshirts. When the donor suggested adding the GSP logo to the gear, Comen remembers students asking for it to be minimized or placed somewhere unassuming. “[It’s] taking the burden and shame out of it,” she continued, emphasizing the need for progress reducing stigma for first-generation and low-income university students. Once on campus, GSP’s comprehensive support includes more than its financial contribution: the program includes a wellness center, ad hoc necessity grants, partnerships with other campus organizations who support undocumented students, and even a course for incoming students about navigating the university environment.

In their later semesters, students have the opportunity to create personal relationships with the more than 400 alumni mentors who offer guidance and care. Mentors come from a range of backgrounds, including GSP alumni, Community Scholars, and other GU alumni. Students who opt into the program fill out a form to gauge the best fit. “I carefully consider characteristics mentors and mentees may have in common, such as if a student and mentor both grew up in Southern California, root for the Knicks, or love Netflix documentaries,” Yasi Mahallaty (GRAD ’21), the assistant director of GSP responsible for pairings, wrote in an email to the Voice. Depending on student needs, some relationships focus more heavily on professional development and being able to use the Georgetown alumni network, while others develop into close friendships and familial connections. “She was someone I knew I could call immediately and she would be there in five seconds,” De La Paz said of Comen. “Deven is to this day one of my closest friends.” Jazmin Pruitt (COL ’19) reflected on how her mentor, Nancy Clark (COL ’77, MED ’81), showed her support throughout Pruitt’s time in school. “She would literally come to my apartment and buy all these vegetables because I didn’t know how to cook, and she would slice them all up and put them in Ziploc bags,” Pruitt said. “College can be really hard and taxing, and she did the smallest things that made such a huge impact.” Clark first learned about the mentorship program through other volunteer experiences with GSP, including helping first years move in when they arrived on campus. “I would pick up students from the airport or bus station, and I basically was their parent for the weekend,” she said. As a DMV local, Clark regularly meets her mentees and invites students to her house for special occasions. When Pruitt, who now works in Georgetown’s Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action office, graduated, the relationship with her mentor continued. “We have traditions. She bakes me a pecan pie for every birthday and invites me over,” Pruitt said. “Anytime I needed anything, she was just a phone call or a drive away.” Pruitt and Clark’s relationship is deeply personal. “Jazmin is a remarkable person, very trusting, open, sharing, joyous. I try to be as open with her and share my experiences,” Clark added. Clark and her husband both hold undergraduate and advanced degrees from Georgetown. Being able to afford sending her own five children to Georgetown also made her want to support other students who didn’t have the same means as her family. Her husband, Kevin Clark (COL ’76, LAW ’79) began mentoring GSP students the same year she did. Mentors living in the D.C. area have the opportunity to explore the city with their mentees through in-person conversations over coffee or food. “Since we’re in the Washington area, we’re able to see our mentees in person, and we try to do things with them that are fun,” Kevin Clark said. He described bringing his first mentee, who was from Zambia, to Nationals baseball games and restaurants throughout the city. Six years after first becoming a mentor, Clark still keeps in touch with his mentees, even those who have moved on from Georgetown. Some mentors are previously unaffiliated with GSP and not even located in the D.C. area. Kurt Butenhoff (SFS ’84) first became involved in mentorship through another university and wanted to find out about similar

opportunities at Georgetown. He recognized that first-gen and low-income students face challenges other students often do not see, or even exacerbate. Upon learning of the program, Butenhoff volunteered to work with GSP students as mentees. “I view my role as trying to help on all fronts when possible: whether that’s advice on career direction, approaches to interviews, challenges in school life or anything else,” he said. “Kurt has definitely become a mentor of mine whenever I have specific questions about career or future goals or networking,” Vincent Dong (COL ’20), Butenhoff’s mentee, said. “And as we approached senior year it was more about job finding, and now it’s character building and how to handle this COVID environment.”

“Back in the day, the focus was just getting people here and thinking that that was enough, but now we understand that it’s ‘to and through’” “These mentorships are really valuable in providing that kind of help,” he continued. Butenhoff emphasized the students’ willingness to reinvest in their community. “I think that GSP is creating future leaders in America, and not only in the traditional sense of political figures or CEOs, but also in the local sense of going through the program, experiencing Georgetown, and wherever they end up going … giv[ing] back,” he said. The COVID-19 pandemic brought an entirely new set of challenges to GSP students and to the mentorship process, as students struggled to find housing off-campus, a stable environment in which to take classes, and networks of care outside D.C. Yet, mentor and mentee relationships remain intact, if challenged by distance. “It’s only changed in the sense that we haven’t been able to see each other,” De La Paz said of his now eightyear-long friendship with Comen. “I would normally have to be at Georgetown multiple times throughout the year. But I don’t feel as though we’ve missed a beat.” While the continued strength of mentorship relationships is a testament to the dedication of GSP staff and members, the pandemic brought a unique set of challenges to the program itself and its student population.

“One thing we understand is that the financial pressure on students has been exacerbated,” Higgins said of the pandemic. “All these costs are big enough to derail someone’s education.” Universities and programs across the country lost funding during the economic downturn, and GSP felt a similar strain. While the program was able to cover its students’ expenses through fundraising and relatively stable donations, national trends point to the aftereffects of the pandemic on first-generation and low-income college students, for whom the interruption in education could have long-term implications and who are harder-hit by the ensuing financial crisis than some of their peers. “We’ve seen trends across the country where students are deciding to take a gap year or maybe they decided that they want to stay closer to home and go to a community college and maybe transfer,” Comen, who now works in the college access field, said. While community college enrollment tends to increase during a recession, latest trends show sharp decreases in attendance, especially among first years and underrepresented students. According to Comen, potential first-generation college students tend not to enroll at all after taking a gap year, and thus may never end up in a program like GSP. Despite these challenges, Higgins lauded the program staff for offering continued support, saying, “The team is so dedicated and hardworking that they figure out a way when there doesn’t appear to be a way.” In a time when Georgetown introduced heavy staffing cuts, however, she worried about how thin the GSP team is spread, adding that being able to hire more full-time staff members would allow the program to focus on longterm projects. As in-person interactions are set to resume in the fall, members of GSP are seeing their program continue to grow. The GSP Necessity Fund, which covers emergency expenses for students, professional development, grocery stipends, and more, is still reliant in part on larger philanthropic donations. The first round of endowment fundraising, however, hopes to institutionalize the funding and ensure stability for the future. “It wasn’t the culture that it is now with all these opportunities for students to talk about social inequity and how they see it show up on campus,” Comen said of the developments following her initial involvement. “GSP is becoming more of a vehicle for students to become advocates.” The alumni mentorship program, itself only six years old, will continue to grow and build on the feedback GSP receives from mentors about their process. “We get a large number of referrals for mentors, and we are in the fortunate position of having a lot of volunteer interest,” Mahallaty wrote. To continue developing its support structures and ability to extend care to students before, during, and after their time at Georgetown, GSP will rely on its donors and the experiences of its ever-growing alumni corps. “GSP extends far beyond the Hilltop, and so much of that is the alumni network, which is a gift that keeps on giving,” De La Paz said. “They go above and beyond to make sure that students and graduates feel supported.” “That’s what it’s all about: paying it forward,” Pruitt said of the possibility of becoming a mentor herself. “Nancy definitely did not have to invest in me—that takes a lot of time and resources—and so I would love to pay that forward in any way that I can.” G MAY 21, 2021


Why my OCD diagnosis meant so much

By Annette Hasnas


have OCD. But that’s only half of the problem. Of course, a condition like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder—which causes obsessive and uncontrollable intrusive thoughts and urges—is, entirely on its own, enough of an issue to worry about. It’s not cute or quirky; it’s incredibly frustrating, sometimes debilitating, and can transform even the smallest action into nothing short of a battle. OCD doesn’t need any help being a problem. But none of that would be quite so hard to bear if it weren’t for the fact that all of it is so goddamn impossible to explain. I don’t mean neurologically—neuroscientific research can explain the underlying mechanisms well enough. No, what I mean is there’s almost no way to explain it from

a personal perspective, the experience of having it. It’s such an integral part of my life, something I carry with me everywhere, and yet, despite all of my years of writing, it defies description. And that’s the other half of the problem. This incomprehensibility would, of course, be frustrating enough if it only affected my ability to communicate my mental state with others. Being able to express yourself simply for the sake of being understood is essential, and just being deprived of the gratification of being understood by others would of itself be hard for me to deal with. But words are important for so much more than that, and this inability—especially during the many years before I had a diagnosis—to put the experience of my


design by insha momin


condition into words has not just shaped the way others see me, but the way I see myself. See, I’ve known for as long as I can remember that something is wrong with me—the symptoms of OCD that I’ve always experienced couldn’t possibly have been right— the problem was that I had no way of knowing whether it was something also wrong with everyone else—whether, however uncomfortable it was, everyone else felt it too. The unpleasant urges I’ve felt my whole life always caused me discomfort, and there’s never been any doubt that ideal human functioning would be without them entirely. They were wrong, they were harmful; both the way others always responded to them and the way they themselves affected my life made that much clear to me early on. But without

the linguistic tools to communicate about them, I had no way of knowing that they weren’t just a natural part of life. After all, there are plenty of universal elements of the human experience—fingernails on a chalkboard, clicking your teeth on a metal fork, being unable to reach an itch—that are unpleasant without requiring diagnoses and medication. What made my intrusive thoughts so different from those? Unable to express what was happening in my head and thus equally unable to receive confirmation that others did or didn’t feel the same way, I was always left with that same unanswerable question: why should I think I was special? So, up against the fundamental inadequacy of language, unable to find evidence that what was wrong with me was either unique or treatable, I was left with the conclusion that, surely, everyone felt as I did. I simply assumed that my experience must have been the same as everyone else’s, with the difference being nothing more than that I was worse at covering it up. The fact that nobody else needed to pick things up using both hands perfectly symmetrically, or take even numbers of steps everywhere they went, didn’t mean that they didn’t feel the overwhelming urge to. Their willpower was simply superior to mine—they could resist where I couldn’t, I was lacking in some way. And I hated it. I hated this perceived deficiency; I judged myself for my inability to do what everyone else could, was ashamed at the ease with which others accomplished feats that seemed so impossible to me. There were no words available for what I had, so to me, what I had was hardly anything at all. Without the words to explain how I felt to others, nobody seemed willing to empathize with me. I was forced to let the symptoms speak for themselves—express what I felt compelled to do, what my obsessions were, without being able to explain why—and that never seemed to be enough for those from whom I sought understanding. Just as I always had, they assumed that nothing was wrong, that I was being dramatic and I needed to just let it go. Children have odd impulses, or get attached to ideas for no reason—that was all that was going on. My desire to step only on certain color tiles as I followed my parents through the grocery store was surely just too much commitment to a game that plenty of children played, and, the adults around me assumed, as I grew older I would learn to stop playing. When I felt a compulsion that might have been awkward or unusual, no matter how benign it was or how little harm it caused, I was generally sent the message—implicitly or explicitly—that I should shut it down and ignore it. No, Annette, it doesn’t matter that you handed something to me with only one hand; I’m using it and not going to pass it back to you so you can hold it with the other. Come on, Annette, don’t lag behind; there’s no reason you need to take that specific path across the patterned carpet. I was conditioned to think that I didn’t need to be kind with myself, that I shouldn’t accept that I had these obsessions

and try to work through them; I was supposed to pretend they didn’t exist. And then, last summer, I got my diagnosis. It helped. But it shouldn’t have had to. According to what research I’ve done, OCD, though it can begin at any time, usually tends to manifest in children in one of two stages: between the ages of eight and 12, or young adults and older teens. Though I’m not sure that quite characterizes my experience—after all, I’ve experienced symptoms of OCD for as long as I can remember—it’s certainly true that, in the past year or so, fitting right into the predicted older teen group, its severity has increased. All at once, what had formerly been an annoyance—a source of occasional pain but more often simple frustration—began to intrude upon every element of my life. Just a few months into my 19th year, the annoyances and distractions I had experienced my whole life escalated into something more. I stopped kayaking—something I had previously done nearly every day in the summers—since I couldn’t bear the asymmetrical way the water drops landed on my legs. I couldn’t go near my dog, as his swinging tail was likely to brush against me in a way I couldn’t control. Going through doorways became a source of stress, chewing food was a battle, and one time I even cried because I couldn’t get the air from my bedroom’s fan to blow on both sides of my body the same way. I cut myself shaving once; when the razor skidded across one leg accidentally and I knew that, despite the blood it was sure to draw, I had to do the same on the other. At this point, it was pretty clear that there really was something different about the way my brain worked. Or at least, there had better be. So I scheduled a doctor’s visit— online, due to the pandemic—and showed up, nervous in case the psychiatrist on the other end told me that in fact nothing was wrong, reinforcing all of my self-judgement with official medical confirmation. But, by the time the visit was over, it was official: I had OCD. And it felt great. Right away, from the moment she said, seeming impossibly casual given how important the words were to me, that yes, what I was describing did sound like OCD, everything felt better. Nothing physiologically had changed: I still had all of the same compulsions I’d always had, but I finally had a term for it. My pain was validated, and all those people who had told me to just ignore it had been proven wrong. It wasn’t “no big deal;” I wasn’t just some annoying kid who got stuck on an idea and refused to let it go. I had a mental disorder, and had just received the official diagnostic confirmation that I was, in fact, experiencing something real. But in many ways, that, too, is ridiculous. Of course I was experiencing something real. The simple fact that I was experiencing it should have been proof of that. Why should I need anything, let alone a doctor’s note, to validate to myself something I knew I felt? It didn’t make sense, and I knew it didn’t make sense, but I felt the reverberations

It was pretty clear that there really was something different about the way my brain worked. Or at least, there had better be.

nonetheless. Just experiencing something wasn’t enough: I needed proof. This feeling, I think, can be chalked up to the broader trend of delegitimizing mental health concerns in general. Of course, it’s vital that we as a society learn to respect mental health and understand that diagnoses for mental health conditions are just as legitimate as their physical equivalents—after all, it’s still common for people to ask why others can’t simply “choose not to be depressed”— but there’s more to it than that. I’ve always been around people who respect mental health, who understand that the simple fact that something is “all in your head” doesn’t make it any less real. And even so, until I got that diagnosis, until I had those three simple letters to neatly spell out that something really was wrong with me, there was never a sense that what I was experiencing could be anything more than a mild quirk. In presenting mental health conditions to the world, the official doctor’s say-so is all that matters—in a way that never seems to happen with physical health. Though a doctor’s note proclaiming that a leg has been broken or a temperature of 100 degrees has been registered is helpful, they’re hardly necessary for others to understand that something is wrong. There’s no need to explain why or how; a complaint of soreness or ache is enough to elicit sympathy. And that’s just never been the case for me and my OCD. For me, now that I do have my diagnosis, the situation has changed. After the first few months of experimenting with different dosages, I’ve found medical means of keeping my OCD symptoms to manageable levels. I’ve grown used to identifying with the condition, with no longer considering myself perfectly mentally healthy, with destroying the idea of the spitting image of mental health that I had always assumed I was. With my diagnosis, it’s easy for me to tell the world what’s wrong, and while the lack of words for the actual experience of OCD is still frustrating, it no longer has such a broad impact on my life. But there are a lot of people out there who aren’t doing as well—who don’t have access to the words I’ve finally found. A lot of people have yet to receive their rightful diagnoses; there are at least as many who never will. And all of them are in that same limbo I was in a year ago, and my whole life before that. I’m hardly the first person to call on others to have more respect for mental illness, but that doesn’t make it less crucial. Even without a prescription to handily show the world that there Really Is Something Wrong, everyone deserves to have their troubles taken seriously, regardless of whether they’re visible to others. If people had just accepted my condition as legitimate earlier on in my life, all that shame and sadness would have been avoided. If people had validated my issues from the start, my OCD would have so much less control over me than it does right now. I could have spoken to professionals earlier, treatment could have begun years ago, and— perhaps most importantly—all the shame and guilt about falling short due to what I perceived to be a universal occurrence would have been avoided. It’s a problem, but it’s a problem that could have been prevented, and one that can be fixed going forward with just a little bit more empathy, even for conditions there seem to be no words to help you understand. So, yeah, having OCD itself is only one half of the problem. But, with just a little more understanding that mental health conditions, diagnosed or otherwise, are just as real as physical ones, it doesn’t have to be. G MAY 21, 2021



When neutrality isn’t enough: Exploring multipartiality in the classroom hroughout my K-12 education, neutrality was a central principle for my educators. In the classroom, neutrality typically means that teachers commit to not taking a stance on social and political issues. While students are usually free to share their political opinions, teachers act as neutral moderators. They practice impartiality during classroom political discussions by removing themselves from the conversation entirely, solely serving as timekeepers or source-checkers. Most debate seems to be framed within a larger curriculum, which is treated as more impartial and depersonalized. Although teacher neutrality is often considered to be the best way to encourage students to engage in reflection and understanding, in reality, it denies the fundamental fact that education is inherently political. From the geopolitical context of schools to district funding disparities to the established Common Core standards, we cannot deny the influence politics has within our education system. The political nature of education is why instead of promoting widespread neutrality, we should pursue an approach that is both engaging and equitable: multipartiality. Multipartiality—developed as a facilitation technique— seeks to level power disparities between individuals by acknowledging the social identities and inequities present within a space. It asks participants to consider how their perspectives are influenced by their social identities, and how these identities influence group dynamics; this can look like facilitators naming who seems to feel most comfortable contributing to the conversation or what perspectives are missing from the space. It also creates room for facilitators to share their own identities and experiences, something that is often deemed inappropriate in schools. Overall, multipartiality falls between impartiality and bias; it does not favor one opinion over another, nor does it completely remove the facilitator from the conversation. The technique often includes facilitators explicitly recognizing a reliance on dominant narratives. A dominant narrative is “an explanation or story that is told in service of the dominant social group’s interests and ideologies.” Oftentimes, dominant narratives are perceived as objective truths, rather than perspectives. Examples of these narratives include the belief that hard work is the key to

success, as well as the assumption of positive relationships with law enforcement in times of crisis. In classroom discussions, the well-intended pursuit of neutrality can often lead to the sustainment of these harmful dominant narratives. When a teacher totally removes themselves from political conversations, they— often unknowingly—choose not to level power dynamics between students, which allows for dominant narratives to flourish at the expense of marginalized students. In contrast, what are known as “counter narratives’’ arise when individuals from marginalized groups share their experiences. Highlighting the insights of those from marginalized groups—such as people of color, disabled people, and LGBTQ+ people—can challenge cultural assumptions and add perspectives ignored by dominant narratives. Multipartial facilitators work to create room for counter narratives to increase understanding of how our identities shape our perspectives, and how these perspectives are legitimized by our culture. Not only does this create a secure environment for students who hold the counter narratives being discussed, it also allows students to achieve stronger critical consciousnesses. Implementing multipartiality provides participants with a consideration of counter narratives, as well as a consideration of why these perspectives are so often suppressed. This question of “why?” provides insight as to the function of larger structures, including the education system itself. As a matter of fact, prizing teacher neutrality becomes a political choice itself, in which dominant narratives are bound to prevail. Because schools function as sites of early socialization, classroom choices and behaviors ultimately influence the later-life political choices and understandings of students. When teachers do not acknowledge counter narratives, they uphold dominant narratives that are, in fact, political. Taking this into account, we must ask ourselves: Can true neutrality exist under institutions that ultimately privilege dominant narratives? Because accepting dominant narratives and minimizing counter narratives have political consequences, the answer appears to be no; this means we must find a way to bring multipartiality into the classroom. The initial approach to multipartiality must be one of challenging the unconscious acceptance of the “banking system of education,” a philosophy of education articulated by Paulo Freire in 1968. The banking system establishes teachers as content experts that “deposit” information via course curricula and students as unquestioning receivers of that content. This system covertly encourages students to abandon their identities and experiences and to prioritize the presented information over their own tangible knowledge. In most classrooms, it is the standard method of instruction. Ultimately, it tells students to enter the classroom as blank slates. But the reality is that no one is a blank slate. We cannot expect students—or educators, for that matter—to displace their personal experiences simply


illustration by sophie stachurski




because they do not corroborate the state-approved educational curriculum. Effectively, asking students and teachers to leave behind their own sociopolitical realities is both harmful and unproductive. Abandoning these contexts leads to what bell hooks calls the “mind/body split,” in which students and educators are taught to compartmentalize in order to enter the classroom with an “objective mind.” But we cannot enter the classroom with just our intellect; to do so hinders engagement and limits the scope of education itself. Centering intellect implicitly tells students that their emotions and experiences are not as valuable—something that is especially problematic because the experiences of marginalized students can run counter to curricula. For example, this conflict can occur in history classes, where students learn whitewashed perspectives of American history that inadequately describe the extent of the violence that Black and Indigenous people experienced during slavery and colonialism and devalue their precolonial cultures. Telling Black and Indigenous students to examine these historical accounts with solely their intellect invalidates not only their own ancestral and experiential knowledge, but also their presence in the classroom. To truly create space for these students in the classroom, we must welcome their perspectives using multipartiality. In order to practice multipartiality, both students and educators must consider their own positionality and biases, and how they contribute to classroom discussions. Creating this awareness enhances critical thinking, it adds further perspectives and dimensions for students to consider, and it ultimately provides a stronger foundation for the mutual respect that neutrality often seeks to establish. We must also remember that the responsibility does not solely lie with teachers. Administrators must also support teachers and their decision to conduct multipartial classrooms, even if this technique may seem radical and unfamiliar. In teacher training programs, future educators must be encouraged to learn about progressive pedagogy and to question the long-held norms within the education system. We cannot abandon our humanity in pursuit of neutrality. In the classroom, we cannot expect total engagement without acknowledging the totality of humanity—this is true for both students and educators. As students, as educators, as people, we deserve to enter the classroom as our whole selves, and doing so is absolutely essential for an equitable and liberatory education. G


Beneath the American sports fray, tennis’ Big Three continue to defy logic WILL SHANAHAN


hat Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic are still doing— jockeying with each other and only each other for position at the absolute pinnacle of men’s tennis—is unfathomable in 2021. Yet, unless you’re a bona fide fan of tennis, which most in the general sports community are not, you probably haven’t noticed. The Greatest Of All Time moniker is thrown around the sports community loosely enough that I can’t help but feel the Big Three’s claims to that title deserve much more additional context than I’ll be able to give them. But here’s a jumping off point: major tournaments in men’s tennis and PGA Tour golf have historically had a similar level of parity at the top. Golf is led by Jack Nicklaus with 18 majors, Tiger Woods with 15, and then a host of players between 11 and seven. Meanwhile, before the Big Three, men’s tennis had Pete Sampras with 14 Grand Slams, Roy Emerson with 12, and then a group just below them. Somehow, though, Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic have all raced past Sampras’s old record—Federer has 20 majors, Nadal is level with him, and the Djoker is just behind with 18. With a devastating combination of relentlessness and transcendent talent, the Big Three have fashioned an oligopoly out of a sport that we previously considered a democracy. The idea of golf and tennis being similarly balanced was a statistical fact at the turn of the century. Now, it’s a comical idea. Golf’s three winningest major players in the last 15 years—Woods, Rory McIlroy, and Brooks Koepka—have combined for 13 majors out of a possible 60. The LPGA Tour, which has recognized five major

tournaments since 2013, has had a total of 40 majors in that time frame, which have been most often by Inbee Park (7) and Yani Tseng (5). In women’s tennis, Serena Williams has won 16 out of a possible 60 Grand Slams since 2006, while Naomi Osaka has been her next closest challenger, with four. In that timeframe, Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic have combined to win—wait for it—51 out of a possible 60 Grand Slams. It’s difficult to even contrive comparable hypotheticals. It’s as if, when Tiger was ripping through the PGA Tour in the early 2000s, every major he didn’t win was automatically sucked up by another Jack Nicklaus-type just as good as him. Take that period, and then extend it another decade. Or if Jordan, LeBron, and a third player—say, Wilt Chamberlain—all entered the NBA around the same time on different teams. Would those three teams combine to win 14 championships in 15 years? It’s possible, but there has never been a 21st century run in professional team sports even approaching that type of prolonged dominance. There has always been another challenger, there has always been a key injury or a strategic error that prevented such unanimity. But none of those rules have applied to the Big Three. The scary alternative to consider is if Djokovic had never come along, because Novak was the party crasher after a period of Nadal and Federer laying waste to Grand Slam tournaments in the late 2000s. Rafa has always ruled the clay surfaces of the French Open—13 of his 20 Grand Slams have come in Paris. But since 2011, when Djokovic really started humming, Federer has captured “only” four of his 20 total Grand Slams despite almost always being

illustration by sophie stachurski

ranked among the world’s three best players. Federer has fallen at the hands of the Serbian mental giant Djokovic in three majors in which he had multiple match point opportunities to capture the victory— the 2010 and 2011 U.S. Open semifinals and the 2019 Wimbledon final. Overall, Djokovic has bested Federer by an 11-6 scoreline when squaring off in Grand Slam tournaments, with 16 of those 17 matches coming in the tournament semifinals or finals (Nadal leads Djokovic 10-6 in Grand Slam matchups). Put simply, if Djokovic hadn’t stood in his way, we can estimate Federer would have at least six or seven more Grand Slam titles. Nadal, probably three or four more. At that point, Federer and Nadal could probably both make a heck of a case as the greatest individual athlete of all time—they’d perhaps have more Grand Slams than anyone (Margaret Court is the all-time leader with 24) while going toeto-toe with an archnemesis every bit their equal. Could you imagine a world where a duopoly is so simultaneously dominant that they could be considered the two best individual athletes ever while playing the same game in the same era? Yes, these are the superlatives we have to use when walking into the Big Three’s kingdom. Americans, despite being consumers whom we’ve always considered so enamored with sports greatness, have largely passed on watching. Tennis is not a sport with a particularly rabid following in the States, so its ratings will always be dwarfed by the likes of the NFL. But golf again seems a fair benchmark, and the PGA Tour major Sundays always outdo men’s tennis finals, sometimes by a multiple of four to one. Within the sport, the U.S. Open

is the only tennis major where the women’s tournament sees higher ratings than the men’s. The reason seems obvious and a function of our national ego—the women’s game has American stars, including, of course, Serena Williams. Just like we love football because it’s our gift to the world, we change the channel when we don’t have a star-spangled horse in the race. That’s not the end of it, because part of what’s so interesting about Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic is that there’s almost nothing about the Big Three that we Yankees associate with. Sure, Federer and Nadal have Nike sponsorships, but Fed is a consummate Swiss with the mild-mannered nature to match and an elegant play style reminiscent of London’s Wimbledon. Nadal is overflowing with that Iberian flair and has made Paris a home away from home on the Grand Slam circuit. And then there’s Djokovic, who’s deathly serious about making his droves of Balkan fans proud and could probably be elected president of Serbia tomorrow. The trio of personalities are compelling all the same, but they’ve never been ours. The Big Three’s run will come to an end. There’s no point in approximating a date on when that will happen because we have spent the last few years waiting for such a moment and all Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic have done in return is win and win some more. Nowadays, Federer is 39, Nadal is 34, and Djokovic is 33—ages at which the tennis greats of yesteryear would have been, at best, long past their majorwinning days. Yet these three insatiable forces charge on, and though it’s taken me too long to realize this, I need to tune in before it’s all over. G MAY 21, 2021


Sometimes stupid cool shit is all that matters By Sarah Watson

Content Warning: This article references self-harm and eating disorders. n the Colorado mountain town where I lived, tattoos were just part of the culture. Whenever things lagged at work, a circle of 30-somethings would trade tales and roll up sleeves to reveal panoramas of ink. Some shared moving stories of mental health struggles or the death of a loved one, others simply said, “Idk, I just thought it was beautiful.” It was an electric and freeing environment that never took itself too seriously—yes, tattoos can be deeply meaningful, but they’re also just objectively cool. They are uniquely expressive and aesthetically alluring, with a hint of badass. They can’t be contained within their original meaning or lines, but stretch and move with their individual canvas. “It’s not only something on a page or a wall, it’s a living, breathing thing that changes over the years,” Egan Barnitt (NHS ’22) said. “It takes on many different meanings and many different forms, it’s like pretty much the most interactive art form that you can really make.” When I got my first tattoo, the artist cleaned the blood off my skin with the words, “Welcome to the inked community.” Colorado’s tattoo-embracing culture is worlds different from the stuffy professional atmosphere of Georgetown, but a small and diverse group of students make up a community of the decorated and proud. Barnitt comes from the perspective of both the inked and the inker. She began her tattoo business in a New South dorm room her first year at Georgetown, giving stick-and-poke tattoos to fellow students. Over the years, she developed her talent, now offering hand-poked tattoos that look the equivalent of machine-done artwork. “Being able to do tattoos has been such a confidence boost to know that people trust me and like my art enough to want it on them forever,” she said. “What more validation could you get than somebody being like, ‘I want it for the rest of my life?’” For artists like Barnitt, tattooing offers artistic experimentation in movement, style, and color. While American style (think stereotypical biker tattoos) has

emerged as a contemporary form, tattoo art has deep cultural origins and significance in Polynesia, South East Asia, and Indigenous North American societies, each of which have distinctive artistic elements. With skin and ink as the essential materials, modern artists can integrate history with new technology and play with styles, from the delicate to the abstract to the cartoonish. For Barnitt, the act of tattooing itself is “meditative.” Tattooing can be a vulnerable process, so she strives to create a safe space for women and nonbinary people where their choices are respected. “That’s what really matters the most to me—being able to make sure that people feel safe while they're making such large steps to become the person that they want to be,” Barnitt said. Tattooing can offer people a renewed sense of agency over their bodies, and an ability to celebrate them in a unique format. “The best part about your body being your body is that it’s yours,” Ace Frazier (MSB ’23) said. “You can do anything you want whenever you want and that’s just so freeing and amazing.” Frazier is relatively spontaneous with tattoos, creating stick-and-pokes on their body whenever the inspiration for a design hits. I empathize with the freedom tattooing can bring to your body. I entered 2020 with a long list of fears, and over the year, began intentionally facing each one (within reason). Getting inked commemorated the personal growth I’d made over my irrational thoughts and worries, and also marked the first time I’d ever felt confident in my body—not because of its appearance, but its strength. They can also act as reminders of personal growth. Akanksha Sinha (SFS ’23) began getting tattoos at the age of 16, and has gotten at least one every year as bookmarks of who she is then. “All my tattoos have meaning to them,” she said. “My first one was commemorating me being clean from self-harm for a year, so that was a really big deal.” Since her first tattoo, Sinha uses her annual tattoos as a reminder of how far she’s come. “Every time I would feel the urge or anything I can look at that and be like, well I did it for so long, so I can do it for longer.” For Barnitt, who has over 20 tattoos, tattooing has been a healthy way to have a say on her body’s appearance


illustration by allison derose



while recovering from an eating disorder. “I think being able to sort of reclaim your personhood in a visual way is really helpful.” Last summer, Barnitt got a belly tattoo that she describes as one of her most empowering. “I thought, ‘I am over this. This tattoo is gonna look sick,’” she said. “I'm wearing crop tops all the time, because I want to show this off, you know, like I fucking love it.” But part of the freedom of tattoos is that while they can have deep meaning, they’re also just freakin’ cool. As Barnitt said, “Sometimes stupid cool shit is really all that matters.” While there is pressure to get a tattoo with deep significance, every inked person I talked to unequivocally considered this mentality a misconception. “There doesn’t need to be philosophy about you making a decision about your body or you making a decision in general,” Frazier said. “I really like that about tattoos.” There is an often-cited worry about regretting tattoos, but Sinha knows that she won’t love all of her tattoos in every period of her life. And that’s okay. “People can get paralyzed by that idea of something being on your body forever,” she said. Sinha sees her tattoos as time capsules, telling the story of who she was at different stages. “It's okay if, 10 years down the line, they don't mean the same thing to me, because there is still a reminder of what it meant to me then.” If a tattoo is representative of who I am, then to me, its physical permanence isn’t a big deal. Just like our bodies, tattoos don’t need to be perfect. Permanent changes to our bodies will come whether we want them or not. Stretch marks from aging, crinkles from laughter, wrinkles from worry. Tattoos are selected snapshots in time of the people we were and the places we came from. And there’s something very honest and beautiful about that. “I really like the idea that I'll be able to look back on this one tattoo that maybe doesn't mean much to me anymore, but to know that it meant enough to me at one point in my life to get it put on me permanently forever,” Barnitt said. “It's just such an ode to all the people that I have been.” G Barnitt is a former cover editor of the Voice.


Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Blindness dazzles in darkness—and solitude OLIVIA MARTIN


hakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall has opened the house once again. Well, not “house,” exactly. The theater’s in-person debuting return, an actorless show, begins the moment the audience files onto the stage. Rather than seating people in the audience, the show transforms the stage into a black box theater, with the curtain closed to the rows of seats beyond. Theater employees instruct audience members to put on a set of headphones, and as the lights make their first change, the audience suddenly plunges into the world of Blindness. The plot of Blindness, adapted from a novel of the same name by José Saramago, follows a contagion of blindness that overruns society. Through masterful storytelling, Simon Stephens’s adaptation walks audiences through the development of the epidemic: from a seemingly normal day and the first known patient all the way through a military-enforced quarantine to an entire country full of blind people. Though audiences may be wary of a show featuring pre-recorded audio as opposed to live actors—it was recorded at the Donmar Warehouse in London—Blindness is worth the trek to Sidney Harman Hall. Fitting for the pandemic times in which it has been produced, Blindness examines not only the contagion and its resulting despair and paranoia, but the human connection and hope expressed during times of strife. The show leaves audiences with an overarching message about the importance of bearing witness: “If you can see, look. If you can look, observe.” Arguably, the main character in the production is Jessica Hung Han Yun’s lighting. Exposed fluorescent lights create movement within the show, changing color and mimicking oscillation in their original positions before plunging downward and

flinging the audience into darkness. The darkness is total, rendering audience members completely unable to see for long durations of the show. Even exit signs provide no light; in case of emergency, there are flashlights attached to each seat that can be used to signal to an attendant that one must leave the theater. The total darkness is all-consuming and absolutely terrifying. Every so often, namely at major turning points in the storytelling, the lights will flicker on. These glimpses of terror and hope are so few and far between, though, that the darkness— intentionally—begins to feel never-ending. The result is petrifying but ultimately thrilling, and even cathartic. That being said, the show’s perception of blindness can feel like a mimicry of disability. Certainly, putting the audience in total darkness is an attempt at giving sighted people a sort of momentary blindness, like that experienced by the characters in the story itself, who do end up regaining their sight. However, the show also presents blindness as an epidemic, which is sort of an odd formulation, but one that does come from the source text. At its center, the story is one of debilitating epidemics rather than disability, in spite of the show’s design being centered around blindness itself. The lone actor, Juliet Stevenson— whose voice is featured though she is not present in the space—plays a myriad of roles at once: the narrator, the wife of an eye doctor, and various supporting characters throughout the narration. The eye doctor’s

wife, the heroine of the story, somehow retains her sight through the blindness epidemic. When her husband is shipped off to a quarantine facility, she travels with him to infiltrate it, trying to advocate and provide support for those who have gone blind. Stevenson’s performance is moving and versatile. She inhabits the different voices seamlessly, as if she actually enters the different personas, though she is not even in the room. Without any visual or physical acting, she takes on the voices and cadences of an entire society. She represents fear, pain, and desperation so well that audiences will struggle not to be immersed in the frantic emotion coming through their headphones. At times she storytells, at times she speaks directly to you, and at times she converses with other characters, who are left unheard as well as unseen. Standout design does the bulk of the work in creating the world of the play and supplementing the parts of the story conveyed through Stevenson’s voice. Ben and Max Ringham’s sound design, which takes a myriad of forms—music, sound effects, ambient noise—does a lot of this legwork. For the audience, what comes through the headphones constructs the world they are immersed in, and constant ambient noise builds a sense of presence in the world of the play. Additionally, futuristic and dystopian sound effects add to the sense of terror, and incorporated music pushes moments forward with ease. Perhaps the most impressive part of the

More than anything, Blindness reminds us to move forward through darkness and dark times as best we can.

photo by helen maybanks, courtesy of the donmar warehouse’s 2020 production of blindness; design by deborah han

design is the localization of the sounds. The audience can hear Stevenson walking behind them and footsteps traversing the room, though it is simply a pre-recorded sound coming through headphones. Sometimes, Stevenson murmurs so close that you can nearly feel her breath as she whispers in your ear. Though the show does not even try to resemble anything like a “normal” one, returning to the theater is nothing short of exhilarating. During one plunge into darkness, the curtains open unbeknownst to the audience and dim lights slowly come up on an empty house. Looking at where thousand-person audiences once sat and, soon enough, will sit again, it is impossible not to feel the purest form of hope. For people who enjoy theater-consuming and theater-making alike, the familiar sight of an empty house feels harrowing and joyful. It seems at once a promise—a light at the end of the tunnel—and a reflection, showing us how much the arts have struggled and lost over the course of the past year. Though this kind of show is far from typical, the very fact that it takes place in-person is an indication of theater’s resilience and imminent return. Both thrillingly terrifying and a total joy to experience, Blindness represents a magical in-person return for Shakespeare Theatre Company. It is an immersive experience just as much as it is a theatrical one, and though it is untraditional in nature, the themes of the show itself can easily be heard loud and clear after over a year of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than anything, Blindness reminds us to move forward through darkness and dark times as best we can. Blindness runs at Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall through July 3. G MAY 21, 2021


Georgetown’s ROTC balances training, class, and

administrative hurdles BY NORA SCULLY B

efore sunrise, cadets and midshipmen are already awake, running laps at the Reflecting Pool or doing pushups on Georgetown’s front lawn as part of an arduous exercise regime. Being a member of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) already demands a heavy training schedule and a series of professional commitments—but being in ROTC at Georgetown comes with its own hurdles. Many Georgetown ROTC members, especially “crosstowners” in Navy and Air Force programs who commute for classes and trainings in D.C., report that a lack of administrative support and accommodations has made maintaining their schedules, which precariously balance ROTC requirements and Georgetown’s academic course load, unsustainable. According to Sarah Bryant (NHS ’23), a midshipman in George Washington’s ROTC program, these difficulties have forced Georgetown’s ROTC students to rally together to get what they need. “The suffering of Georgetown [ROTC students] makes us closer as a unit.”

The Hoya Battalion is Georgetown’s Army ROTC program, which hosts students from Georgetown, George Washington University, American University, Catholic University, and the Institute for World Politics. Alongside GW’s Navy ROTC program and Howard University’s Air Force Detachment 130, the Battalion allows participating Hoyas to pursue four-year degrees while training to enter the military as officers. While many assume that ROTC creates a binding commitment to service in the military, in reality, students may participate in an ROTC program for two years without incurring an obligation to serve. However, if students accept an ROTC scholarship from Georgetown, the cadets incur a four-year active duty commitment followed by a four-year inactive obligation. Reserve option cadets incur an eight-year commitment serving one weekend a month and two weeks a year. Students can compete for the nearly 2,000 Army scholarships during their senior year of high school or they can join an ROTC program at a university and compete for campus scholarships. Navy scholarships fit into one of


design by insha momin


three categories: engineering programs of Navy interest, other engineering, math and science programs, or foreign language and other academic programs. ROTC students have complained that this priority list does not accurately reflect the necessities of modernday deployment, wherein cultural or linguistic knowledge about a region could be more essential in certain situations than mechanical engineering. As part of each branch’s ROTC program requirement, students are mandated to take a set number of classes each semester separate from their graduation requirements. For Army ROTC, Georgetown offers nine military science classes over four years. Navy ROTC midshipmen also have a requisite list of classes that includes calculus and physics, in addition to naval science classes. All naval science courses are held at GW, meaning students must allocate time in their schedule to make the roughly 10-minute commute by car to the Foggy Bottom campus. The weekly trip often occurs in the early mornings before the free Georgetown University Transportation

Shuttle (GUTS) runs, and without a nearby Metro stop in Georgetown, students frequently have to get there by car. Even using GUTS as the primary method of travel adds nearly 40 minutes to the overall travel time. According to Bryant, who is also the crosstown advocate for Navy ROTC students at GW, this often forces students to get together in groups to pay for their own transportation. “If you just catch an Uber, it’s about $10, you split it with three or four other people, and you get there in 10 minutes,” Bryant said. At roughly two or three dollars per trip each week, midshipmen and cadets might wind up paying nearly $100 on travel costs each year, and that’s only if the costs are split between a group. According to Bryant, there are several initiatives at Catholic University which reduce student difficulties in finding their way to classes early in the mornings, including using athlete transportation to facilitate ROTC travel to different universities—resources that are not available to Georgetown ROTC students. While finding transportation to their military science classes is an expensive inconvenience faced by ROTC students, the more prominent hurdle is scheduling them in the first place. The strict course load students are required to maintain can place significant pressure on them during registration. “The military science classes make my options very limited for the classes I can take,” Hoya Battalion cadet Matteo Caulfield (COL ’23) said. During his second semester, Caulfield was forced to enroll in overlapping classes to maintain his graduation trajectory, and had to skip one of the classes once a week to attend the other. “There weren’t a lot of options, and it was very frustrating that I had to be skipping classes and catching up on work outside of class when I already have ROTC.” Other students have had similar experiences with registration. Matthieu Forgeas (SFS ’24) has had to push back several core requirements as a result of the program’s inflexibility. “Generally, you can’t get into the sections on the days you need, so essentially you have to push core requirements back, which creates a mess, or you have to take a bunch of classes in a day,” Forgeas said. At GW, this dilemma has been resolved by offering ROTC students pre-registration capabilities, but at Georgetown, the Academic Resource Council (ARC) only offers that ability to varsity athletes. While ROTC students receive credit hours for their military science classes, after a certain point, those credits stop contributing toward any degree program— yet, students are still required to take the ROTC courses in order to enter the military as an officer. That leads to uncategorized credit hours and locks out opportunities to take other required degree courses or pick up another major or minor. The classification of different ROTC classes also varies, with a student’s school and dean determining which classes can go toward a specific degree, according to a university spokesperson. At GW, the naval science credits that students earn can go toward a naval sciences minor, a program that is not offered at Georgetown. Students like Grant Burroughs (SFS ’22) have been working for several months to change that. Burroughs, in his third year as an Army ROTC cadet, has been in contact with the SFS Academic Council and the Vice Dean for Undergraduate Affairs, Mark Giordano, in his attempts to bring a military science department to Georgetown.

“[The strict course load] leaves a lot of students unable to pursue other double majors, minors, certificate programs,” Burroughs said, speaking from personal experience. “We hope that a military science minor will allow ROTC students to receive credits for the classes they have been taking, but also for the larger Georgetown community in general,” he added. “A lot of students go into politics and government afterward, and this would allow them a foundation in how the military works and how it is a tool of foreign policy.” Burroughs has been compiling a database of faculty who have expressed interest in a military science program and will continue seeking faculty support over the summer. The next step, Burroughs said, is to sit down with SFS academic deans, who will make the final decision. Although the university has not yet taken action to establish such a program, administrators say they are open to expanding the scope of courses available. “The university is supportive of exploring course and minor options that reflect our institutional values as well as the broad interests of our students,” the university spokesperson wrote in an email to the Voice. The administration’s history with the Battalion and ROTC is long and tumultuous. The Battalion, although founded in 1830, had its roots during the Revolutionary War; George Washington was received at Georgetown and commended the students’ military qualities. During the Vietnam War, the ROTC program faced significant opposition from the rising anti-war protesters on campus, and as a result, the university discontinued academic credits for the program in line with student demands. Years later, the concessions were eventually lifted and the university gave the program its own academic department and senior cadets six credits. Though the ROTC’s existence at Georgetown is now cemented, its members still experience hurdles in obtaining resources. For instance, students have sought access to physical trainers for decades to no avail. Access to physical trainers is granted to varsity athletes and many club sports, but according to Burroughs, the ROTC students’ physical training is just as demanding. ROTC students have training anywhere from three to five times a week, with field training exercises on weekends three to four times a semester. “We have very rigorous demands. A lot of times, students will get injured, and we are forced to go to the Student Health Center, since it’s convenient and cheap and a good option, but they don’t have the physical trainer capabilities that we might need,” Burroughs said. He recounted being misdiagnosed by doctors at the center several times. Lack of access to the athletic gyms and the varsity training center has also arisen as a point of discussion among ROTC students. “It’s a pretty common mantra among ROTC cadets: ‘We should have access to the athletic gyms,’” Caulfield said. Cadets currently make the best out of public spaces, like Duke Ellington Track and Field, Yates Field House, the front lawn of the university, or even the infamous Exorcist steps. Yates, which cadets use in the winter when temperatures drop, presents its own limitations. Only certified trainers are allowed to “train” others, prohibiting ROTC groups from working out or running on the track as a collective. This is only complicated further considering the Hoya Battalion consists of a consortium of schools. Graduates who are attached to the ROTC unit, often not Georgetown students, might have to pay out of pocket for a guest pass to

use the campus facilities. According to Burroughs, access to an actual weight room would be a significant improvement over the body weight exercises cadets do outside. “I understand a lot of the logistical problems that come along getting access to [the varsity training center], but it definitely would help with our training,” Burroughs said. While many of these problems became less timely when students transitioned online, other difficulties for group training arose during the pandemic. ROTC students were initially part of the 2,000-person cadre that was set to return in the fall, in part thanks to GUSA advocacy, but when that number fell to 500, they were not included. Officers had to develop exercise programs compatible for their living room at home and do their best to adapt. Many students decided to lease off-campus housing in D.C., where Caulfield says some members still gather outside in public spaces to go through exercises. For the spring semester, the program developed an optional in-person component to training on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the National Mall or the waterfront. Some students even fly out for the in-person weekend field training exercises that have continued. However, much of the camaraderie and accountability that comes from training alongside one’s ROTC class on a frequent basis was lost, according to Forgeas. “It makes it a lot more bearable to run alongside your fellow midshipmen than doing all of the miles and pushups alone,” he said. There are several other aspects to ROTC training that don’t translate well into an online environment, Caulfield noted. Teaching exercise forms, completing weapons training, participating in military ethics games, and even learning military mannerisms—which range from marching formations to the variety of salutes and greetings—are significantly more difficult, if not impossible, online, according to several ROTC members. Similarly, each semester, cadets take three to four trips to Quantico—a small town in Virginia home to one of the largest U.S. Marine Corps bases, the Basics School, and the Officer Candidates School—in order to conduct battle drills and leadership exercises in combat situations, all of which are difficult to teach over Zoom. “They have virtual training exercises where they give people tests on how land navigation works or how to give first aid in a combat zone, so they have something, but they’re losing really important parts,” Caulfield said. According to Forgeas, the ROTC students will essentially have to repeat this year of training. At the end of August, midshipmen participate in a week-long bootcamp, and the ROTC students, despite being in their second year, will have to repeat the bootcamp in-person to replace the online training that occurred this year. As the third and likely last online semester wraps up, student advocacy for a variety of initiatives, from ROTC pre-registration to a military sciences department, will only continue. Many student advocates in the ROTC program see the transition back to in-person education as the time to seize the opportunity for change. Considering Georgetown’s emphasis on politics and public service, Caulfield is surprised by the limited accomodations for its ROTC students. “It is so strange that they don’t support people who are in a program dedicated to putting themselves in public service and offering them the resources they have at their disposal to put them in the place they need to be,” Caulfield said. G MAY 21, 2021


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