“You have to work twice as O c to b e r 1 1 , 2 01 9
In the 50 years since Georgetown became fully co-ed, only six women have ever been student body president. THE GUSA GENDER GAP
By Annemarie Cuccia
plus ASIAN AMERICAN ACTIVISTS STEP UP AND SPEAK OUT
By Caroline Hamilton THE GDA WANTS GEORGETOWN TO RETHINK DISABILITY By Roman Peregrino
Clara Gustafson (SFS '13)
Enushe Khan (MSB '17)
October 11, 2019 Volume 52 | Issue 4
Celebrating 50 Years
Level the Playing Field for College Athletes
Editor-In-Chief Sienna Brancato Managing Editor Noah Telerski news
Reestablish the Civilian Conservation Corps
“A Narrative of Invisibility”: Asian American Activists Step Up and Speak Out
At Peace with Not Belonging INÈS DE MIRANDA
In Jest, or Depressed? PAUL JAMES
The GUSA Gender Gap ANNEMARIE CUCCIA
Executive Editor Voices Editor Assistant Voices Editor Editorial Board Chair Editorial Board
Lizz Pankova Leina Hsu Natalie Chaudhuri, Amanda Chu Inès de Miranda Sienna Brancato, Delaney Corcoran, Annemarie Cuccia, Lizz Pankova, Julia Pinney, Noah Telerski, Jack Townsend
Community in Diversity: The GDA Wants Georgetown to Rethink Disability
Joker’s Great Presentation Doesn’t Excuse Its Abhorrent Message
Executive Editor Sports Editor Assistant Editors Halftime Editor Assistant Halftime Editors
A Woman’s Place in The Kitchen
Jack Townsend Katherine Randolph Rachel Cohen Annemarie Cuccia, Caroline Hamilton, Roman Peregrino
Executive Editor Brynn Furey Leisure Editor Ryan Mazalatis Assistant Editors Emma Chuck, Anna Pogrebivsky, Juliana Vaccaro De Souza Halftime Editor Skyler Coffey Assistant Halftime Editors Teddy Carey, Samantha Tritt, John Woolley
Executive Editor Features Editor News Editor Assistant News Editors
“There has never been an advocacy-focused disability organization at Georgetown in all of its history, so it is incredible and important that this is happening now.” PG. 13
Jacob Bilich Delaney Corcoran, Olivia Stevens Egan Barnitt Timmy Adami, Josh Klein, Cade Shore Staff Designers Allison DeRose, Alex Giorno, Insha Momin, Cassi Sullivan
Executive Editor Spread Editors Cover Editor Assistant Design Editors
Man Man and GRLwood Bring Energy and Oddity to the Black Cat LUCY COOK
on the cover
Executive Editor Podcast Editor Assistant Podcast Editor Photo Editor
Kayla Hewitt Panna Gattyan Peter Guthrie John Picker
Executive Editor Jake Glass Website Editor Cam Smith Social Media Editor Eli Lefcowitz
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.
illustration courtesy of apilf; photo courtesy of imdb
THE GEORGETOWN VOICE
Copy Chief Neha Wasil Assistant Copy Editors Maya Knepp, Sophie Stewart Editors Stephanie Leow, Moira Phan, Madison Scully, Cindy Strizak, Maya Tenzer, Kristin Turner
email@example.com Leavey 424 Box 571066 Georgetown University 3700 O St. NW Washington, DC 20057
Aaron Wolf Will Shanahan Jake Gilstap, Tristan Lee Nathan Chen Ethan Cantrell, Josi Rosales
Clara Gustafson (SFS '13)
Enushe Khan (M SB '17)
“Eleven Percent” JACOB BILICH
General Manager Maggie Grubert Assistant Manager of Leah Fawzi Accounts & Sales Assistant Manager of Alice Gao Alumni Outreach
Associate Editors Emily Jaster, Hannah Song Contributing Editors Dajour Evans, Damian Garcia, Julia Pinney, Katya Schwenk Staff Writers Luis Borrero, Steven Frost, Darren Jian, Steven Kingkiner, Ryan Remmel, Sarah Watson
An eclectic collection of jokes, puns, doodles, playlists, and news clips from the collective mind of the Voice staff.
→ → TIM AND LIV'S HOYA-SCOPE
afternoon tea by egan barnitt; squirrel by olivia stevens; lacroix rats by timmy adami; soccer photo by john picker
Tim and Liv recently had an ~experience~, and now we are certified hotties (and psychics). We read the stars and divined your fate— press on to find out what your Hoya-scope is: aries: Homecoming will be the end of you taurus: You’re gonna blow it, babe gemini: Backstab that b (you know the one), they deserve it. cancer: You’re gonna get it—good or bad, up to you ;) leo: Make out with your best friend virgo: Don’t, just don’t libra: Your bday will have far-reaching consequences scorpio: Keep GERMS on speed dial sagittarius: Showers are a good place to cry capricorn: Don’t send that text aquarius: Your Uber rating is about to drop pisces: If they were into you, you’d know
→ → LIV'S ANIMAL DOODLE
Nuts About You
→ → GOSSIP RAT Gossip Rat here, your one and only source into the scandalous lives of Georgetown’s elite: What’s the difference between a winning Mr. Georgetown candidate and a subpar one? Star quality. Word is THE Noah Telerski will compete for the title of Mr. Georgetown tonight. Here’s the tea if you’ve been living under a rock—Telerski is the hottest guy at school. His glasses fall in such a way that frames his perfectly symmetrical face, making his jawline sharper (if that’s even possible). Inside sources suggest that he will play catch with you at any time. Former Kennedy-4 residents have reported swooning at the beautiful sound of his vocal prowess lilting down the hallways from the showers. Who else could be Mr. Georgetown but him? Tune in later tonight to watch Telerski defend the Voice’s Mr. Georgetown crown. xoxo, Gossip Rat
→ → AFTERNOON TEA REPORTS
→ → PLAYLIST
Just because it’s below 70 degrees doesn’t mean you should already be pulling out your Canada Goose ... and that’s the tea.
In preparation for Mr. Georgetown Voice Noah Telerski's performance, enjoy this this playlist to get in the mood.
LISTEN TO THE AFTERNOON TEA PODCAST AT GEORGETOWNVOICE.COM
→ → OVERHEARD AT GEORGETOWN
→ → SPORTS
Photo of the Week
“You’ve heard of hot girl summer. Now get ready for positive selfesteem autumn.”
1. Wagon Wheel Old Crow Medicine Show 2. Wagon Wheel Old Crow Medicine Show 3. Wagon Wheel Old Crow Medicine Show 4. Wagon Wheel Old Crow Medicine Show 5. Wagon Wheel Old Crow Medicine Show 6. Wagon Wheel Old Crow Medicine Show 7. Wagon Wheel Old Crow Medicine Show 8. Wagon Wheel Old Crow Medicine Show 9. Wagon Wheel Old Crow Medicine Show 10. Wagon Wheel Old Crow Medicine Show
Jacob Montes (left) and Dante Polvara (right) celebrate a goal against Lehigh University. Georgetown won the game 2-0. October 11, 2019
Level the Playing Field for College Athletes
he National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was founded under a different name in 1906. Its goal was to “protect young people from the dangerous and exploitative athletic practices of the time.” However, it would be naive to believe that its objective today is anything other than to profit on the backs of students. Some students are the stars of a multi-billion dollar show put on for the benefit of the NCAA and its member colleges. Meanwhile, at the very least, students lose the right to control their own image when they become college athletes. The NCAA’s rules limit the amount schools can give students in exchange for their athletic labor. At most, schools can give their varsity sport-playing students a full-ride scholarship and stipend for the cost of living, some token meals, academic tutoring, and transportation. It was only five years ago the NCAA eliminated the rule that meant cream cheese could not be served next to bagels without violating students’ amateurism. The imbalance here—glitzy TV deals and million-dollar coaching salaries against scholarships contingent on students’ continued participation in their sports—is an obvious problem. For some students, this system is worth it. Typically, they are students who generate little revenue for their universities. They gain a leg-up in the admissions process but won’t receive a scholarship or have much chance of becoming a professional athlete. There are also many for whom an athletic scholarship can have a lot of value, especially those who would not otherwise attend college or who play a less popular sport. For them, the scholarship may be commensurate with their labor. For those who could not otherwise afford to go to college, their scholarship shackles them to the team. Any solution to this imbalance must ensure that students can stop playing varsity sports without jeopardizing their academic futures. Their labor should guarantee them the opportunity to earn a degree. They should be given lifetime scholarships that are valid until completion, even if they decide to take a shot at a professional career and become ineligible to play college sports. Further, athletic scholarships should not be contingent on participation so students aren’t coerced into playing. Some students, meanwhile, generate millions of dollars each year for their schools, often at great risk to their own health and future, with only college tuition as compensation. For a chance at going professional, these students labor without payment because of a multilateral scheme set up for universities' profit: the NCAA. It's no wonder, then, that a California law is sending shockwaves through the college sports industry. When the Fair Pay to Play Act goes into effect in 2023, California schools will not be able to prevent their students from earning money from their “name, image, or likeness.” Subsequently, the NCAA would lose some of the financial control it has over college athletes. The legislation passed unanimously and became law on Sept. 30. Nonetheless, opponents have argued that the law will change the character of the sports fans love. They believe the players’ amateurism makes the game more genuine, unlike professional sports where players might only be in it for the money. For the majority of varsity athletes, this law would change nothing. Most players have no fame and play for the love of their sport and the camaraderie of their teammates. They would not earn much from sponsoring a brand’s products. 4
THE GEORGETOWN VOICE
Meanwhile, Texas A&M student and track athlete Ryan Trahan was forced into a compromise by the NCAA that made him separate the water bottle company he co-founded and ran in high school from his name as a college athlete. Should Texas pass a similar law, Trahan could use his status as a track athlete to promote his company. Where a student musician has every right to express their dual identities as student and musician, a student who plays varsity sports has to silo their creative endeavors from their athletic ones. Students who generate the most money for their schools—men’s football and basketball players—will be able to ink deals worth at least some fraction of their value to schools. They could pose with products, voice ad campaigns, or sell signed jerseys. This law will not make professionals out of college students—any more than they already are. Eager to preserve the “integrity of the game,” the NCAA issued a statement in August condemning the law and pleading with states to let its internal rulemaking process work itself out. “Changes are needed,” the NCAA said in its statement. And indeed they are. But the NCAA has demonstrated for decades that its real intent is to exploit its laborers and give the proceeds to colleges and itself. California’s bill is a good start and sorely needed. But unless states and Congress pass their own versions, the NCAA will simply exclude California universities from college athletics altogether. That would be a huge blow to the organization because California universities are some of its biggest brands. But without a nationwide coalition to continue to put pressure on the NCAA, the tide of change may stop here. While allowing students to profit from their likeness is a promising start, it is insufficient. Lifetime scholarships are one measure to ensure student-athletes remain students, but the uneven relationship between colleges and their students is untenable. California’s law returns some power to its rightful owners. Regardless of industry or legal classification of the workers involved, this kind of monetary imbalance must be addressed, and other states must follow California in taking the first steps toward improving the lives of students who are athletes. G
Reestablish the Civilian Conservation Corps
ur world is in crisis. Rising temperatures are causing more frequent and destructive extreme weather events with ever-increasing human and financial costs. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, if the planet warms 2 degrees Celsius, the consequences would be catastrophic and irreversible. Two weeks ago, 12 presidential candidates took the stage in Gaston Hall to present their ideas on how to address this crisis. Their visions included far-reaching policy changes and suggestions for how individuals can make a difference. However, we can draw on the past for examples of programs we could invest in for the future. This editorial board believes the United States should reinstate an adapted version of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to combat climate change and provide opportunities for engagement and employment. The CCC was first established in 1933 as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal agenda. It was a voluntary program that provided work opportunities for unmarried men ages 18 to 25. They received uniforms, housing, meals, and medical care, as well as a small stipend of $30 a month— most of which they were required to send home.
Before Congress voted to end the program in 1942, as draft-age men were needed for military service, the CCC constructed roads and bridges, established state and federal parks and forests, and planted over 3 billion trees. Three million men got an opportunity to learn marketable trade skills and save money for the six-month duration of their service. While based on similar principles, a modern CCC would have a different composition and focus. Unemployment is not as high as during the Great Depression, and women must be included to make the program equitable. But the need for nature preservation and revitalization has only grown since the 1930s. There have been proposals for a modern CCC, namely from Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH). Kaptur introduced legislation in 2017 that would establish a “21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps” and authorize the appropriation of $16 billion over three years to hire “unemployed or underemployed” Americans. The program would focus on afforestation projects, maintenance and construction of state and national parks, and plant pest and disease prevention. Most importantly, the program would aim to mitigate the effects of forest fires, floods, and erosion. These resiliency projects would better prepare the country to face the escalating impacts of climate change, and aforestation and restoration projects would create new carbon sinks to take greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. Beyond the environmental benefits of the program, Kaptur’s proposal would require 80 percent of the funds go towards employing participants with a fair and livable wage. That would allocate almost $13 billion toward providing opportunities for work where individuals can acquire marketable skills, increasing their chances of being employed. This is especially useful for training people in trades like masonry that are struggling to attract new workers despite their importance to our society. While $16 billion is a large appropriation, it is a smaller financial burden than other climate resiliency proposals, and only some include the social benefits of significant job creation. A new CCC is by no means the only program necessary to address climate change, but it would be a positive step toward limiting its impact. Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg included a “Climate Corps” in his national service policy proposal, which would be composed of Resilience AmeriCorps and a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps. This voluntary program, built by expanding existing service opportunities, is another viable option for increasing climate resiliency that could gain the support of a divided Congress. While building on existing programs would provide a solid base for this kind of initiative, its scope would be limited. Only by an act of Congress creating a new CCC could we rapidly and massively engage enough people to do the work needed to be done in the face of the climate crisis. The CCC was one of the most successful programs of the New Deal and arguably one of the most successful peacetime initiatives ever undertaken by this country. At a time when our infrastructure is crumbling and the places people live are at a higher risk of harm from climate change, we need a big response to a big problem. The original CCC was by no means perfect, excluding women and undertaking some projects that inadvertently damaged the environment, but we have the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and use them to build a better program. When we need seawalls, brush clearings, levees, tree plantings, erosion mitigation, and a whole host of other projects to protect people from the onset of climate change, we must mobilize and empower individuals en masse through national legislation. A new CCC would put people to work and pay them well, all while ensuring we are better prepared to face the challenges of a changing climate. G
VOICES CARRYING ON: VOICE STAFFERS SPEAK
At Peace With Not Belonging INÈS DE MIRANDA
e all have that one friend we go to coffee with and then spend 8 hours talking about life while shopping and circling back to Target two hours later to get those $7 coasters we regretted not buying.” A version of this caption floats around on my Facebook or Twitter feed all the time. I don’t think I have that friend these days, and seeing this “relatable” post on social media makes me wonder what’s wrong with me that I don’t. While I have great friends and I appreciate them, I rarely enjoy a full feeling that I belong in any given social setting. My childhood was unlike that of many of my peers. I had three nationalities when I moved to the United States in 2001. I learned to speak English and French simultaneously, both at home and at a French school in Bethesda, Maryland. I later went to a French school in New York City. I am so used to being different that when asked “Where are you from?” I can’t help but respond, “Well, how much time do you have?” The question of belonging is something that has always been on my mind because I lived in a country that I wasn’t a citizen of, and I wasn’t fully a part of my family’s culture either. I’ve always lived on an imaginary bridge between two places, but I didn’t feel the need to examine it too closely because I was surrounded by other kids who were in a similar situation. When I got to Georgetown, it was the first time, apart from summer day camps, that I wasn’t in my unusual French-international setting. But having lived in this country for 15 years at that point, already familiar with American pop culture, politics, and social conventions, I thought I was ready to be on an American college campus. I wasn’t. My first year at Georgetown was really difficult. I lived in New South, which has 100 students per floor and little sense of community, and missed half of NSO for coincidental medical reasons. I couldn’t understand how everyone around me was making friends while I had hardly met anyone. I joined clubs that had no application process because I was annoyed by the idea of being judged before I was welcomed, but they only partly aligned with my interests. I went to the social events I was invited to but inevitably ended up wondering what I was doing there. The odd thing is, I never questioned that I belonged at Georgetown. I loved going to most of my classes, walking on campus, and living in D.C. It occurred to me once that I could transfer, but I quickly realized I didn’t think I’d be any happier anywhere else. As a freshman, I switched to neutral to avoid realizing that while I wasn’t miserable, I wasn’t fulfilled either. I avoided feeling the highs so that I wouldn’t feel the lows of being alone while surrounded by people who seemed to be having the time of their lives. Finding my place on the Hilltop took time. I found out that belonging isn’t about being the same as the people around you. It’s about finding people that you can be comfortable around. I eventually gravitated toward the people I thought were the funniest, and those willing to hear what other people have to say. I have that comfort now mostly with my friends from my sophomore floor and at the Voice. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t question my place in these groups at times. Because of how I was raised, the examples of how I stand out are more obvious. I’ve never been to Denny’s, I’ve never seen an entire baseball game, and I do not know how to get from inches to feet to yards. These small things are among the hundreds of details that make me close but not quite the same as others, and that compel me to preface a conversation by saying I’m French. I am not trying to sound pretentious when I do that, although I know it sometimes comes off that way. It’s my way of setting a premise about who
I am. My big difference is cultural, but everyone has something that makes them different. It could be their taste in music, their sense of humor, their oddly specific major. We build up the communities we’re a part of in our minds as immutable associations, but they’re not—they’re what we make of them. I’ve found over the past couple of years that you get out of relationships what you put into them. It’s not about always being there, but contributing meaningfully when you are. My cultural differences do not absolve me from responsibility in maintaining good relationships. If I like people, it’s up to me to make an effort to see them more. At the Voice, we like to think we’re very welcoming. We have no applications, so anyone can join as long as they want to be here. But that doesn’t mean it can easily be your home on campus. Like any other club, we have a culture; ours depends on nerding out over the things we care about, whether culture, sports, design, opinion, news, or any other section. It’s important, however, that we check in to make sure that everyone is included and doesn’t feel like if they don’t fully fit the mold they don’t fit in at all. They do. They belong because they have decided that they want to, and it’s both our responsibility and theirs to foster that sense of belonging. This doesn’t just happen on campus. As a senior who hasn’t figured out what exactly next year will bring, I have been wrestling with the question of where I want to live in order to have a sense of belonging. My parents moved to Portugal a year ago—somewhere I have never lived, do not speak the language, and do not know well culturally—so I no longer have a physical home to return to. There’s no going back, only choosing where I will go next. My family has said they want me to be closer. If not Lisbon, then at least I should be looking for a job in Paris or London—why stay in the United States with no family and no friends once they’ve all moved to different parts of the country after graduation? But I am terrified of the idea of moving to somewhere like France and sticking out for the opposite reason that I do here. Once I go to France, there is no next step—I’ll have gone “home” according to my family, but it won’t feel like it. At least if I move to somewhere in America, I can always pick up and leave. Maybe I will never believe I belong, something always reminding me that I didn’t get a joke or I wasn’t included in a plan. Maybe I will find people that I click with instantly. Maybe I’ll keep the friends I’ve made at Georgetown and we’ll live in the same city and have a standing bi-weekly brunch. No matter which it is, feeling like I don’t belong does not make me less than the people I want to belong to; it means I can’t wait for the universe to make relationships happen for me. It means I shouldn’t compare my relationships to those I see around me, and make sure that I ask friends out for coffee regardless of whether we spend eight hours getting it. G
illustration by cassi sullivan
Inès is a senior who bakes hot cakes at the French bakery where she works and writes hot takes as the chair of the Voice's editorial board.
October 11, 2019
In Jest, or Depressed? PAUL JAMES
Paul is a freshman in the SFS, studying Culture and Politics. His favorite color is grey, and he holds widely unpopular views about Oxford comma usage and the spelling of the word ‘grey.’
ow are you?” is a very difficult question to answer. My latest preferred method has been to mime tying a knot in my hands, slipping the imaginary loop over my head, and yanking sharply upward, tongue lolling out of the side of my mouth for emphasis. It’s one of many dark, knee-jerk reactions I have had for a long time; the only recent change is in my audience. This type of joke was standard procedure for my friends over the past few years, so coming to Georgetown required a slight realignment, an effort to temper my humor. But for all the initial shock, people seemed to adjust quickly. Too quickly. The trivialization of suicide or depression is not new, but neither is it entirely understood. Sarah Liberti, who spoke about the “casually suicidal” phenomenon at a 2017 TEDx conference, gave an example familiar to most of us. One of the many popular jokes she found online was, “at that point in the semester where I don’t look both ways when I J-walk.” I laughed. But Liberti is quick to put this into perspective. “I made the mistake in these situations of assuming the people were fine,” she said, postulating that this light-hearted treatment of the subject was an attempt at relatability and attention. “But what if that was their flare? What if, instead of laughing, they were screaming?” This question, and the many-sided responses to it, opens up a vital debate about the place for dark, morbid humor in casual conversation.
THE GEORGETOWN VOICE
One person commits suicide every 40 seconds; it is the second leading cause of death among those aged 15-24. By the time you reach this sentence, someone else will have taken their own life. Suicide is not in itself a funny matter—not by a long shot. But neither is it fair to say that anyone who jokes about it is cruel or lacks any knowledge of the subject matter. Much of the initial response to this kind of humor is anger at the way it seems to belittle one of the most terrifying human experiences. Doing poorly on a quiz or even having a bad week is certainly not a reason to kill yourself. Yet, just within the last week, I’ve heard comments like, “this class makes me want to die,” “might as well go hang myself after that grade,” and “if they’re closed, I’m gonna shoot myself.” These types of jokes are not only tasteless, they also undermine the use of dark humor as a way to seek community and help when someone feels uncomfortable being wholly open. However, despite initial instinct, paying closer attention to these jokes may reveal that they are not always callous, not always exaggeration. Kevin Breel, another student TEDx speaker, said, “We live in a world where, when you break your arm, everyone runs over to sign the cast, but when you have depression, everyone runs the other way.” Suggestions to “perk up” or “get over it” exhibit the way we think about mental illnesses as less legitimate than physical ones. In order to get through to people, many of us resort to humor. Through jokes that seem a little too dark to just gloss over but still somehow fall within the standards of social acceptability, we are insisting that you notice, iwn our own quiet way. Breel won multiple awards for theater and English in high school, kept up a social life, and was captain of an athletic team. He was also thinking about taking his own life. If he had just come forward and said he suffered from depression, people would have pointed to these outward-facing facts as evidence against his confession. But the two are not mutually exclusive, and until our culture is no longer one of stigma and fear, humor, as twisted as it appears, is an effective way of bridging the gap. An Atlantic article about the prevalence of memes with suicidal humor shared online noted, “Typically, suicide memers aren’t mocking suicidal thoughts; they’re commiserating and bonding over being suicidal.” The intention of making these jokes in person is similar, a subtle attempt to find out who in the social setting understands what it is like to live with depression and seriously consider ending one’s own life. When I came to Georgetown, I used depression humor to gauge the level of identification those around me had with issues of mental illness. Clearly, this is an approach with the potential to go very wrong, but it nonetheless remains a common way of building a foundation for social bonds. Ruby Wax, a comedian and diagnosed clinical depressive, pointed out that with physical ailments, people want evidence, they want to “see the lump,” but with depression, there’s nothing readily available to show. In a way, dark humor plays the role of a physical symptom. It’s something tangible, or at least more easily recognizable, that I can point to when I appear to be physically sound. Liberti concluded her talk by saying we tend to overshare online and undershare in person. That may be changing to some extent as people become more comfortable discussing mental illness offline, but there is still a long way to go before depressives no longer have to hide behind humor to let someone know they are hurting. Humor acts in a similar way to online interaction, where those sharing do not have to directly engage with the audience on an honest level. Online, the separation is evident in physical distance as well as a kind of constructed social media persona. Communicating via humor creates a platform to share a message, but taking the seriousness out of the interaction decreases the likelihood of getting caught up in a deeper discussion with more targeted, in-person engagement about depression and suicidal ideation. The onus for paying greater attention and reaching out is not entirely on the audience or those without personal experience of depression. Those of us who use these jokes as a way of coping or connecting could benefit from trying to be more open and direct. So the next time I say I feel like jumping out the window, I would appreciate the response, “Do a flip.” But I also appreciate genuine concern instead of being held at arm’s length, someone to listen and know that what I may treat as a joke is an expression of an underlying struggle. After all, the line between a laugh and a scream is not always clear. G
illustration by carina dahmani
The movie tries to uplift women, yet it ends up teaching us that femininity is weak.
A Woman’s Place in The Kitchen TESS KELLEY
Note: Spoilers for The Kitchen ahead.
arrived at my local AMC one August afternoon feeling skeptical. I was about to watch Melissa McCarthy in a serious role, and I wasn’t sure if it could live up to Megan in Bridesmaids or Sookie in Gilmore Girls. In The Kitchen McCarthy, along with Tiffany Haddish and Elisabeth Moss, play a trio of Irish mobsters’ wives who decide to run the mob themselves when their husbands end up in jail. I left the same way I entered—skeptical—but for a different reason altogether. The movie was entertaining enough; that wasn’t the problem. And at first glance, the message seems empowering. The three main characters learn to be strong women, independent of the men around them and unconstrained by their “proper” role in society. With so many films failing to even pass the Bechdel Test, which measures a film’s representation of women, it was nice to see three complex women at this movie’s center, especially when most other films in the mobster category are about men. What bothered me was what the movie considered “strong.” As the main characters gain more control over the mob, they become increasingly tough and hardened. They begin to kill not out of necessity but because their newfound strength means they can: Tiffany Haddish’s character pushes her aging mother-in-law down the stairs, and Melissa McCarthy’s character has her husband killed solely for her own gratification. The movie presents their character arcs as clear positive development. They’ve finally learned to assert themselves and abandon society’s expectations— or, have they just moved from projecting one sexist trope to another?
Tess is a freshman in the College who’s probably majoring in biology and anthropology but doesn’t really know yet. Her favorite thing about Georgetown is Jack the Bulldog.
Despite the growing number of strong female characters in movies, the way pop culture represents strength itself remains monolithic: It’s the stereotypical masculine man, who is tough, stoic, aggressive, and definitely has abs. Tom Cruise in the Mission Impossible movies. Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. These characters don’t display emotion like the stereotypically feminine woman, and they crave combat to prove themselves, unlike their submissive female counterparts. This portrayal of strength, even by a woman, doesn’t help anyone: It certainly doesn’t help women who are seen as weak for not adhering to this ideal, but it also puts unnecessary pressure on men to conform to an emotionless, macho standard in order to be “real” men. When pop culture tries to present strong women, therefore, it transplants this definition of strength. So actually, the women of The Kitchen still meet society’s expectations, except this time they are society’s expectations of masculinity. The movie tries to uplift women, yet it ends up teaching us that femininity is weak. This problem with presenting femininity is not unique to The Kitchen. The trope of a female character who’s good in a fight only because she grew up with 10 brothers, for example, is common in action movies. A strong woman can be “one of the guys,” but a weak woman likes pink lipstick, cries when she feels like it, and wants a family. Even when movies include a strong feminine character, more often than not her femininity is hypersexualized. Look no further than the number of slow pans from a woman’s feet to her face in literally any Michael Bay movie. For women in pop culture, there are two extremes, and neither accurately depicts strong women. The problem is not unique to pop culture. Masculine strength is directly correlated with leadership. Of Forbes’ 100 most innovative CEOs this year, one was a woman. Does that mean women are inferior leaders? No, it means that it’s harder for society to see women as strong leaders because of their femininity. A woman who embodies stereotypically feminine characteristics is seen as too emotional or too sensitive or too warmhearted to be a quality leader. In fact, women in the workplace often alter their behavior to be perceived as more masculine: half feel they need to hide their emotions at work, and one in four purposely dresses in a more masculine way, according to a Telegraph article. When a woman in leadership does embrace her femininity, she is often criticized for it. Take Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example, whose bold red lipstick and hoops are used by critics to belittle her and detract from her career. But women can be strong and feminine. Leslie Knope of Parks and Recreation is a successful politician who celebrates the women in her life on Galentine’s Day and raises a family. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg uses fashion as an expression of her beliefs: She has a collar specifically for when she dissents and another for when she reads a majority opinion. Strength can and should exist not in spite of femininity, but because of it. As I left the theater, I wondered what my mom and younger sisters thought of The Kitchen. Although we’re all at different stages in our lives, none of us are completely immune to the messages presented in pop culture. I want them to live in a world where they can feel strong no matter what. And for that to happen, we need to see femininity presented as strong, because it is. G
illustration by insha momin
October 11, 2019
Gender By Annemarie Cuccia
More than 50 years after Georgetown became fully co-ed, student government still faces significant issues with gender equity.
Members of the 1993 GUSA executive team, including President Richard R. Heitzmann (MSB ’94) and Vice President Jahmal Green (SFS ’95). Since 1969, only 19 percent of GUSA executives have been women.
hen Deborah Canty (COL ’78) ran to be the president of the Georgetown Undergraduate Student Government in 1977, the university had only been fully co-ed for eight years. Since the first election in 1889, the student body president had always been a man. And yet, at the time Canty was elected, she thought it was natural the students had chosen her to lead. “I didn’t think anything of it. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal,” Canty said. “I believe that when I was interviewed by one of the papers, I basically said that maybe people weren’t ready for this, but I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. And I don’t think that it was.” Forty years later, gender divisions certainly affect the way Georgetown students choose their leaders. According to GUSA’s archives, since 1969, only 19 percent of student presidents and vice presidents have been women. This disparity is not confined to GUSA’s executive branch. The GUSA Senate, established in 2006, has also been heavily dominated by male voices. When the Election Commission first announced the Senate candidates for the freshman class in September, there were only two women on the ballot out of fifteen candidates. Last year, the class of 2022 elected seven men to fill the freshman seats, shutting out the nine women in the race. When former Speaker of the Senate Eliza Lafferty (COL ’21) first campaigned for a seat, she felt like her peers were confused as to why she was running for a spot in GUSA as a woman. “I think we expect men to be in leadership positions,” Lafferty said. “Just the baseline standard of what we imagine leadership to look like is going to be a straight white male, and when we change
that, when we alter someone’s perception of what that looks like, it’s going to take extra convincing. You have to work twice as hard.” Students may expect student government to be male-dominated because of the precedent set by years of male GUSA leadership. After Canty in 1977, the next female president was Monica Medina (COL ’83) in 1982. GUSA would not see another female president for two decades, until Kaydee J. Bridges (SFS ’03) was elected in 2002. The first woman of color to lead Georgetown’s student government was Enushe Khan (MSB ’17), elected in 2016. Khan was also the last female president. GUSA has never had a president or vice president who identifies as transgender or nonbinary. In 1969, it would have been plausible to assume that the number of female leaders was low because women had only just been admitted, and once they had the chance to run, the numbers would equalize. However, in the 50 years since women began attending the university, only six have ever been elected president. The percentage of female leaders largely reflects vice presidents who have been women. Fourteen women have held the title, including four in the last three years, compared to 36 men. Sen. Daniella Sanchez (SFS ’22) believes women get pushed to the less powerful spot for strategic reasons. “The sweet ticket is for a man to be in the first position and a woman to be second hand,” she said. Vice President Aleida Olvera (COL ’20) and former Vice President Kenna Chick (SFS ’20) both acknowledged
photo courtesy of the georgetown university library; design by jacob bilich
THE GEORGETOWN VOICE
the trend, though neither felt gender dynamics played a role in their position. Chick was chosen by President Juan Martinez (SFS ’20) to fill the opening left by former Vice President Naba Rahman (SFS ’19), and Olvera never vied for the top spot. Though both Olvera and Chick felt they shared the work and reward equally with their male counterparts, Olvera quickly pointed out that, according to stories from past executives, this was abnormal. These prevalent rumors, Olvera said, suggest that past female vice presidents have done the majority of the work and received less credit than they were due. Lafferty is, as far as she knows, the only woman to have been Senate speaker. As Speaker, she led every meeting and helped set the Senate’s priorities. In the autographed book passed down from speaker to speaker, Lafferty saw no other woman’s name. “That’s something that really sticks with you,” she said. “It just made me all the more conscious of the voices that were in the room and the voices that weren’t in the room.” The decision to run for any position in GUSA is a complicated one. Winning means a yearlong commitment with weekly meetings and projects, so any potential candidate has to seriously consider if they are interested enough to put their name on the ballot. For women and minorities, though, there is often another consideration. Chad Gasman (COL ’20), a former senator who identifies as nonbinary, said that many women, trans, and nonbinary people do not view GUSA as inclusive. “GUSA has this reputation as a white boys club, and so for anyone who isn't a white, cis-het man, it doesn't feel like a
welcoming space in the first place,” Gasman said. “There's already that initial barrier to entry.” Lafferty believes this feeling is exacerbated when there are few women or nonbinary people in GUSA. “Women oftentimes are more critical of themselves, and they don’t see themselves in those positions so they don’t run,” she said. “It’s also hard when you don’t actually see a woman being in that top leadership position or being the head of committees. Seeing it leads you to understand that you too can do it.” Canty did not recall being concerned about these issues, even though, to her knowledge, she was the first woman to run at the top of the ticket. “I don’t know, frankly, what made me decide to do it, but I will tell you that being a woman did not discourage me at all,” she said. Sanchez believes that last fall’s election, which produced a slate of all-male freshman GUSA senators, discouraged women from campaigning this year. As the Senate outreach chair, she knew that she could do something to bring more women in, though the deadline to declare candidacy had passed. “When I saw the tweet with the candidates for freshman year, I decided, ‘I’m in the Senate this time, it’s up to me.’” Along with Olvera and Vice Speaker Samantha Moreland (COL ’21), Sanchez hosted information sessions for women interested in petitioning to be on the ballot. Petitioning is required if a candidate decides to run after the filing deadline. To be considered a candidate, prospective GUSA senators must collect 100 signatures. Several people showed up to these sessions, looking for insight into how to run for the Senate as a woman. One of them was Zahra Wakilzada (COL ’23). When Wakilzada saw all but two of the candidates hoping to represent her class were men, she felt obligated to run. “I realized that last fall, no women were elected,” she said. “I decided to petition to run.” As she spoke to the other potential candidates, they said the lack of diversity dissuaded them from pursuing a campaign. “When women saw the number of women who were there, they did not want to run,” Wakilzada said. “They were not inspired.” Sanchez and Olvera helped Wakilzada, as well as six other women, petition to be on the ballot. With the support of all of the women in the Senate, they ensured that all of the candidates got the hundred signatures necessary in order to be considered a candidate. Wakilzada was the only one of the seven petitioners to be elected. Though she was excited about her victory, she said she wished there had been more women elected. “I heard from people that it would be less diverse, that it would be male dominated, and that was true when I got there, ” Wakilzada said. Gasman believes the Senate’s reliance on elections contributes to its homogeneity. “The executive does a little bit of a better job of getting queer and trans people involved because they do not have to rely on votes,” they said. While the executive consciously appoints its members, according to Olvera, the demographics of the Senate rely on the preference of the student body. Sanchez acknowledges the effect the choices of the student body has on the diversity of GUSA. “At the end of the day it’s the voters. Because people can blame GUSA all they want for things they don't like,” Sanchez said. “But last year when all men were voted in for the class of 2022, I didn't blame GUSA. I knew the voters. That is the largest problem, and that's the one I don't know how to combat.” Beyond the statistics, Lafferty highlights the social barriers women in leadership face. “There are numerous
things that if you walk into the Senate room, even not intentionally, people will treat the women's voices in the room differently than the men voices,” she said. Holding a leadership role, she said, did not guarantee that people would respect her authority. “Even as speaker, I had times when I had to constantly assert myself in the room. Probably twice a week people thought that my vice speaker, who’s a man, was the speaker, and I was the vice speaker,” she said. “It’s systematic sexism. And it’s hard to break, but the more that we put women in leadership, the more we’re breaking it.” Chick said she constantly alters her communication style to avoid falling into stereotypes often associated with women. “I advocate using logos oftentimes more than pathos, because too much pathos can be interpreted as being ‘overly emotional’,” she wrote in an email to the Voice, referring to the Greek words for “logic” and “emotion,” respectively. “I have to balance being a kind and understanding leader while also upholding strong standards, and I don’t think a man would have to do this in the same way.”
sexism. And it’s hard to break, but
the more that we put women in leadership, the more we’re breaking it.” In the current executive, Olvera often feels like others’ perception of her is affected by the presence of GUSA President Norman Francis, Jr. (COL ’20). Olvera said. “I feel like I’m always being looked at differently when I’m next to Norman.” Olvera insists Francis understands that people sometimes don’t take her seriously. She recounted one meeting during which a student only acknowledged Francis, even though Olvera ran the conversation. Francis gave Olvera credit, but Olvera still said that others’ disrespect proves disheartening. “It’s like you’re the secretary, even though you’re not, ” Olvera said. In conversations with both students and administrators, Olvera has noticed she is not paid attention until she speaks. After that, she thinks she is more engaged with because she takes care to confound their expectations. “I make sure that when it's time for me to speak I'm speaking confidently, I'm saying I know exactly what I'm talking about, I’m confident, the stuff I am saying is smart,” Olvera said. The process of defying stereotypes is draining for female GUSA members. In an email to the Voice, Chick
wrote, “I know I am capable of being a fierce advocate, but how much time do I have to spend convincing other people that I can be in order to gain that leadership opportunity rather than be given that opportunity?” Multiple men in GUSA declined to comment for this story. The environment can feel especially hostile to students who are not cisgender, according to Gasman, who said the institution fails to prioritize issues of gender and pronouns. During their tenure in the Senate, they introduced a resolution asking all senators to include their pronouns in their email signature. “People didn’t take it seriously,” Gasman said. “They weren’t against it; they just did not see it as an issue.” Without any other out trans or nonbinary people in the Senate or in executive leadership, Gasman says GUSA can be isolating. “That's another stigma that people aren’t realizing, that that community needs more support in the Senate,” Sanchez said, referring to the LGBTQ community. While last year’s elections were discouraging for many women, Olvera believes GUSA is on the right track. “We are actively engaging and making sure we are including women in the picture at all times. I think leadership all knows that women are the backbone of everything,” she said. Olvera and Lafferty both highlighted new requirements instituted over the past few years for senators and members of the Cabinet to undergo extra bystander training as a sign GUSA is taking safety and biases seriously. After former GUSA President Sahil Nair (SFS ’19) resigned, several students raised concerns that GUSA was not a safe place for women. In a public GUSA meeting last fall, multiple GUSA senators said they had heard stories of allegations of sexual assault made against Nair. Nair said he never faced any formal complaints through the university’s Office of Student Conduct. This was confirmed by university Vice President for Student Affairs, Todd Olson, with Nair's permission. “We’re hoping this shows that we are taking a different direction and a different step towards addressing [sexual misconduct] because it is unacceptable, absolutely unacceptable,” Olvera said. During Lafferty’s time as speaker, it was important not only to encourage representation, but to make institutional changes that would outlast her, she said. “What I tried to do is create a legacy that even if there wasn’t another woman or person with my same priorities in the position that we could have something institutionalized, ” she said. Lafferty helped to create a new health and wellness department in GUSA, and implement Sexual Assault Peer Educators workshop requirements. Canty now sees her election as an important moment for the university. “In the context of the maleness of the history of Georgetown, I guess it was a historical moment,” Canty said. But lately, Georgetown’s lack of female leadership seems reminiscent of its male-dominated past. “There’s just a lot of backpedaling, a lot of progress that should be made by now.” After hearing about the change in GUSA, Canty reflected on the progress that she has seen during her lifetime. “I often think that in a lot of ways, that women have come a long way, but I don’t know that men have come a long way, and I’m not sure that the way that boys are being raised today is all that different than the way that boys have ever been raised,” she said. “And sometimes they have a sense of entitlement or a sense of superiority and that’s encouraged in every facet of their life as a young person, so that when they become an adult that’s all they know.” G October 11, 2019
A N A R R AT I V E O F
Asian American Activists Step Up and Speak Out BY CAROLINE HAMILTON
hough midterm season was in full swing, more than a dozen students flocked to the Asian American Hub for Organizing, Movement, and Empowerment (AA HOME) on Oct. 2. The light green townhouse on Magis Row has a no-shoes policy, so students kicked them off at the door before piling in for the Chai Chat. Co-sponsored by the Asian-Pacific Islander Leadership Forum (APILF) and the South Asian Society (SAS), the discussions at the Chai Chat revolved around “issues of perception and visibility within the South Asian community.” For Nat Tahir (SFS ’20), director of community outreach and communications for APILF, the event was especially significant. “This year, a big goal of mine was to do a lot more South Asian American organizing,” she said. Through APILF, Tahir and the club’s other members try to support Asian American and Pacific Islander students by holding conversations and community events, as well as by organizing around political issues relevant to their experiences, like academic inclusivity and immigration. In keeping with its intersectional mission, this year APILF is advocating for a diverse range of Asian American studies courses, as well as collaborating with other on-campus activist groups on matters of race, gender, and sexuality. When Tahir first arrived on campus, she looked for community in groups like the Asian American Student Association (AASA) and SAS but was disappointed by their narrow focus on cultural topics. “I didn’t feel like I could talk about issues that were pertinent to our community that were more political.” As she got involved with APILF during her sophomore year, Tahir found a group of Asian and Pacific Islander students determined to talk about issues beyond cultural identity. Onrei Josh Ladao (COL ’21), APILF’s historian and codirector of programming, hopes that the club serves as the kind of activist community he was looking for when he was a freshman.
“When Asian American first years come into Georgetown, they see big umbrella organizations like AASA and immediately assume that this is the space for them— that’s how I came in,” Ladao wrote in an email to the Voice. “However, the organization has been historically East Asiandominated, and as a result, other Asian identities, as well as Pacific Islanders, are pushed to the margins.” Since its founding in 2016, APILF has aimed to be a platform for Asian and Pacific Islander students of all backgrounds, especially those typically underrepresented in larger organizations like AASA. That fall, AASA Co-Presidents Bethany Chan (COL ’17) and Steven Xiue (COL ’18) started planning an Asian Leadership Forum. Designed to be a coalition organization like the Black Leadership Forum and Latinx Leadership Forum, which represent the common interests of the various black and Latinx clubs on campus, Chan and Xiue hoped their forum would involve representatives from more specific cultural clubs. When Zack Frial (COL ’18) heard about the meetings, they were eager to get involved. “I knew that this would be my chance to get more involved with that part of my identity,” Frial wrote in an email to the Voice. “I attended the very first planning meeting all the way through until the constitution of APILF in spring 2017.” Frial said that, eventually, the club grew away from AASA, hoping to create a smaller, independent organization where each club could be heard. Frial added “and Pacific Islander” to the club’s name in order to include more students of Pacific Islander heritage. The following spring, they helped write the constitution for the Asian and Pacific Islander Leadership Forum. At first, Frial struggled to sustain student involvement in the club. “This is not to say that Asian Americans were not active in other political groups on campus,” they explained, citing Asian American involvement in groups like the Georgetown Solidarity Committee. “However, any group focused around explicitly Asian American issues was not in existence.”
illustration courtesy of apilf; design by delaney corcoran
THE GEORGETOWN VOICE
Interest waned steadily during Frial’s senior fall. “I strove to keep APILF alive during that semester,” they wrote, by co-sponsoring events with groups with more resources like La Casa Latina and the LGBTQ Resource Center. In the spring, the club saw the arrival of APILF’s future leadership: Tahir, Ladao, Heejin Hahn (COL ’20), and Jennifer Sugijanto (COL ’20). Frial credits this new generation, especially Sugijanto, with revitalizing the club. “Jenn entered the picture and added new energy to APILF, primarily through pushing for Asian American Studies courses,” they wrote. For the last year and a half, expanding the Asian American Studies curriculum at Georgetown has been the student activists’ primary goal. Universities like Cornell, Northwestern, USC, and UCLA have entire programs for Asian American Studies, but Georgetown has only one fulltime professor who specializes in the field: Christine So, who joined the faculty in 1998. So is now an associate professor in the Department of English. Last spring, she taught English 221: Intro to Asian American Studies. “It was hands down one of the best teaching experiences that I’ve had at Georgetown,” So wrote in an email to the Voice. “I taught ‘Intro to Asian American Studies’ because APILF students came to me and said they wanted that class.” Tahir explained that the club is committed to expanding course offerings because they don’t believe that Georgetown’s curriculum is inclusive. “There is no space for ethnic studies on this campus,” Tahir said. “It really goes to show that Georgetown really cares about white narratives, white history.” In 2009, university President John DeGioia announced the Initiative on Diversity and Inclusiveness in order to foster a more inclusive campus. Among the promises made in a 2010 update on the initiative’s work is a commitment to “explore creating new programs” in the areas of African American, Latinx, and Asian American Studies.
An African American Studies department was created in 2016. Currently, there is no department for Latinx or Asian American Studies. In protest, APILF partnered with AASA’s Political Action Committee (PAC) this January to create “Georgetown Doesn’t Teach Me,” a photo campaign advocating for an expanded Asian American Studies curriculum and more full-time faculty. Inspired by similar campaigns at universities like Duke, the University of Pennsylvania, and Amherst College, the campaign features photos of students—many Asian American or Pacific Islander—holding signs that name what Georgetown didn’t teach them about the Asian American experience. “About Lum v. Rice,” reads one sign, referring to the 1927 Supreme Court case which ruled that excluding a Chinese American girl from a public school on account of her race did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment. “Overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and American imperialism in the Philippines,” reads another. To Tahir, a wider curriculum would mean expanding the ways students think about the Asian American experience. “It’s just a narrative of invisibility,” she said. “Asian America isn’t recent—it’s not just a first-generation immigrant experience. It goes way beyond that. It has two centuries, three centuries of history, and to not teach that is a disservice.” Besides pressuring the administration to fulfill the promises it made ten years ago with the introduction of the Initiative on Diversity and Inclusiveness, APILF and AASA also hope to introduce Asian American and Pacific Islander activist efforts to the wider student body. “Not everyone is as politicized as we are,” Frial wrote of APILF and its co-leaders. “Through movements for Asian American Studies and for the Asian American HOME, we have managed to mobilize parts of the Asian American student body who normally would not participate in other forms of political action.”
Gina Kang (SFS ’22) has a similar mission. As cochair of AASA’s PAC, she wants to invite Asian American students to ask critical questions about their identity. “A lot of freshmen come into college never having really discussed their identity really critically or talked about issues in a setting where other people were concerned about them as well—political issues, cultural ones, being an Asian American,” Kang said. “That’s kind of our push, to encourage those conversations.” Asian and Pacific Islander students make up 10 percent of Georgetown’s student body, but Kang believes their voices are underrepresented in national electoral politics and on-campus activism. “Activism is something that we want to expand upon more this year,” she said. This year, PAC is campaigning to increase Asian American voter registration. According to Census Bureau data, only 40.4 percent of Asian Americans were registered to vote in 2016, more than twenty percent lower than the national voter registration rate of 64.2 percent. In September, PAC partnered with APILF to host two voter registration drives at the AA HOME. “Voter registration and this kind of direct political action is something that Asian Americans could be more involved in,” Kang said. She cited Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang as an example of how Asian American figures are becoming more prominent in the public sphere. “Yang is a really good example right now, and that makes us a lot more visible to the American public, but that is a place where I see room for progress and there is room for growth.” Groups like APILF are trying to propel that growth by adding new dimensions to the discourse around Asian
“I SEE A LOT OF BIG STEPS, FOUNDATIONAL STEPS, HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.”
American identities. “We try to be as intersectional and inclusive as possible,” Tahir said. “‘Asian American’ is just a race label and to not include all the different intersectionalities of that identity really would be a disservice.” Within Hoyas for Immigrant Rights (HFIR), students like Rimpal Bajwa (SFS ’22) are expanding conversations
about immigration to include Asian and Pacific Islander experiences. Bajwa has been passionate about immigration advocacy in D.C. since her freshman year. “Being the child of two immigrant parents, it was something that’s always been really topical in my life,” she said. “When I found a group on campus, I was really eager to join.” In her role as leader of HFIR’s Activism Committee, Bajwa organizes events around communities affected by immigration policy, including Asians and Pacific Islanders. According to the Migration Policy Institute, of the 44 million immigrants who currently reside in the United States, more than 14 million were born in Asia or the Pacific Islands. Pew Research estimates that 1.5 million Asian immigrants in the United States are undocumented. “The burden of immigration rights and advocacy is unfairly put on a certain community that’s always visible in the news,” Bajwa said. “The thing is, immigration isn’t a topic that impacts one community—it impacts a lot of communities.” HFIR aimed to demonstrate this intersectionality in September with a panel titled “Unpacking Summer 2019: Attacks on Immigrants.” Featuring representatives from black, Latinx, and Southeast Asian immigrant rights organizations, the panel explored how different immigrant communities have responded to the events of the summer—ICE raids in D.C., migrant detention camps at the southern border, and the fatal shooting of 22 people by a white supremacist in El Paso, Texas. “It’s an issue that affects a lot of people,” Bajwa said. “That’s why we reached out to other organizations on campus that we thought would diversify the audience and let people know that immigration isn’t just one community’s issue.” APILF was among the panel’s co-sponsors, and its leadership hopes to host more events with other on-campus affinity and activist groups, Tahir said. Many of these events, like its joint programming with SAS and AASA earlier this semester, are slated to take place in the AA HOME on Magis Row. While the Black House and La Casa Latina are sponsored every year by the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access (CMEA), Georgetown has no permanent community space for Asian and Pacific Islander students. Tahir said that APILF leadership and their advisor in the CMEA, Esther Sihite, are investigating the possibility of establishing a similar permanent space. “The fact that it’s a Magis Row right now was intentional. To apply for it was really to set a precedent,” Tahir said. “We have a very particular mission that we want to follow through with.” To APILF leaders, the creation of the AA HOME represents a big step forward for Asian American and Pacific Islander students, but the club is also in a transitional moment. Three out of its four leaders will graduate this spring, leaving Ladao and a new generation of activists to keep fighting for an Asian American Studies department and a permanent Asian American affinity space at Georgetown. “Our organization is constantly a work-in-progress,” Ladao wrote. But Tahir is hopeful about the club’s direction. “I see a lot of big steps, foundational steps, happening right now,” she said. Besides organizing political events like last week’s Chai Chat, HOME’s residents—Hahn, Sugijanto, Kenna Chick (SFS ’20), and Hatty Nguyen (SFS ’21)—also hold open house hours twice a week and screen episodes of the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender every Friday. APILF events so far this semester have been well-attended. The Chai Chat attracted more than a dozen attendees, and students convened at the HOME last month to share snacks and decompress after the Unpacking Summer 2019 panel. When the panel was over, moderator A’idah Defillipo (SFS ’20) had to shout over the crowd to describe where students could find the townhouse on Magis Row. “It’s the one that says ‘Abolish ICE’ in the window!” G October 11, 2019
Community in Diversity The GDA wants Georgetown to rethink disability bby roman peregrino
uffled laughter and low murmurs fill an ICC classroom on the first night of October. Some students sit quietly, scrolling through their phones, while others converse with their neighbors. The connection between them is not apparent. Kiki Schmalfuss (NHS ’22), Andrew Bialek (COL ’22), and Anna Landre (SFS ’21) are at the front of the room, looking out at their audience with anticipation. This moment has been a long time coming for these three. The first meeting of the Georgetown Disability Alliance (GDA) has come to order. Schmalfuss, Bialek, Landre, Kenna Chick (SFS ’20), Maya Stevenson (SFS ’20), and Julia Winkler (COL ’22) are on the council of the GDA, which is currently in new club development. The group came together last semester to provide a discussion forum for students with disabilities and their allies. Almost 30 years after Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, the GDA hopes to build a lasting community for students with disabilities. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 19 percent of undergraduates in 2015–16 reported having a disability. Many students rely on Georgetown to accommodate housing or academic needs related to their disabilities, but some have found it difficult to have their needs met. Winkler has seen what that struggle is like. “It can be hard to fight for both what you physically need to be okay and also what you need to be treated like a person,” she said.
Identifying those needs, however, can be challenging. For the GDA council, barriers for students with disabilities often extend beyond the physical. Bialek believes the challenges that students with disabilities often face come down to issues of perspective. “Disability is only looked at a) through the medical model, or b) from the ableist perspective that you are just afforded accommodations to level the playing field. There’s no cultural or general acceptance of the idea that disabled individuals don’t need to change to fit in,” he said. According to Winkler, the medical model is one “which treats disability as kind of a medical problem that needs to be fixed or treated.” The GDA leaders believe this lack of understanding can affect students with disabilities’ sense of self. “At elite institutions like Georgetown, disability is thought of as incompatible with success and too often is something that people feel like they have to hide or minimize to fit in,” Landre said. “We want to combat that stigma and that idea and create a space where people can show disability pride.” But even for students whose disabilities aren’t evident at first glance, adjusting to a university setting can be difficult. “One of the hardest parts of being disabled at Georgetown is that most disabilities here are invisible and so it’s easy to hide that and not acknowledge that,” Schmalfuss said. According to a 2015 University of Massachusetts report, 10 percent of Americans have “invisible disabilities,”
design by olivia stevens
THE GEORGETOWN VOICE
disabilities that are not immediately apparent, and 96 percent of people with chronic medical conditions live with an invisible disability. It can be difficult for students with invisible disabilities to find a community which, according to Schmalfuss, the GDA wants to provide. “Sometimes with invisible disabilities it can be hard to find someone to connect with you and understand what it’s like to live with a disability because you can’t see it,” she said. Whether the disability is hidden or apparent, disability issues have been present at Georgetown since long before any members of the GDA came to campus. Lydia Brown (COL ’15) knows from experience all about the tension between receiving accommodations and equal treatment. “At Georgetown, I, like many other students with disabilities, faced a really constant onslaught of academic ableism and endemic ableism across campus,” Brown said. “Ableism is a system of oppression that targets and marginalizes disabled people.” For Brown, one of the largest issues is a lack of accessibility. “Accessibility means methods of enabling people to participate or engage,” they said. Georgetown has not always had a sterling reputation when it comes to accessibility concerns. Arrupe Hall failed ADA compliance in 2018, and White-Gravenor is currently undergoing renovations to install a ramp to improve accessibility. According to a university spokesperson, Georgetown has made progress in improving campus accessibility, and continues to make it a focus. “Georgetown is committed to
ensuring that our campus is accessible and inclusive,” the spokesperson said in an email to the Voice. “With a twohundred-year-old campus on hilly terrain, we have faced a number of accessibility challenges over the years, but we are continuing facility enhancements across campus to ensure ADA compliance.” Ableism also manifests in how students with disabilities are treated on campus. “I ran into a number of instances where other professors or staff that I’d worked with at Georgetown, either in my classes or outside of my classes, treated me in some incredibly dismissive and cruel ways,” Brown added. Brown described an instance in which a professor told them that they shouldn’t bother studying a language due to their disability. After graduating from Georgetown, Brown went to Northeastern University’s law school, and has since been involved with community organizing and advocacy work. They are the founder and director of the Fund for Community Reparations for Autistic People of Color’s Interdependence, Survival, and Empowerment, which provides autistic people of color with direct financial support. In their role as an attorney, Brown is also a Justice Catalyst Legal Fellow at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, where they represent students with disabilities who are facing difficulties getting accommodations and education in the classroom. This passion for disability activism began before Brown entered Georgetown, but their college experience prompted them to pursue advocacy work as a career. “[Disability] was treated as your fault, your responsibility to fix it, and ultimately your responsibility to look to fix yourself, because you would be seen as the problem and not others,” Brown said. Winkler believes that in the years after Brown’s graduation, navigating college with a disability hasn’t gotten easier. “I think an issue with disability when it comes to institutional spaces is that there can be rules in place that, in the end, it’s going to come down to a flawed person, usually an abled person, making a judgement about someone else’s disability that they don’t know anything about,” she said. Brown sees Georgetown’s inefficiencies with handling disability as being at odds with the university’s distinct Catholic identity. “For all of Georgetown’s talk of cura personalis, there is no cura personalis if Georgetown believes that access is something to be done merely to avoid litigation or merely to avoid the superficial appearance of inaccessibility rather than actually caring about their students and other campus community members as a whole person,” they said. “And so part of that is ensuring that accommodation access is a reality and not something that you have to jump through bureaucratic hoops to get to.” At Georgetown today, it can still be difficult to acquire accommodations, and ableist attitudes persist. However, campus has progressed in recent years. Notably, the disability studies program at Georgetown has entered its third year and just graduated its first class of disability studies minors in the spring of 2019. The program originally began as a cluster of classes supported by the Red House between Fall 2015 and Spring 2017. According to Program Head Libbie Rifkin, the field of disability studies has developed in the past 30 years, alongside the disability rights movement and the introduction of the ADA. Rifkin, whose son was born with cerebral palsy, wanted to pave the way for students to be introduced to the field of disability studies.
“The mission of the program is to center and, in some ways, lift up a group of people who are the largest minority—anywhere from 1 in 5 to 1 in 4 people in the U.S. are disabled—and that experience hasn’t been adequately explored in an academic context, at least at Georgetown it hadn’t been,” Rifkin said. While she stressed the academic significance of disability studies, Rifkin believes the program’s aims extend beyond the classroom. “It’s a field where we care a lot about tying theory and practice together,” she said. “We want our students working in the disability community. We want to support the disability community at Georgetown, and we want to work to make the institution more accessible and inclusive.” To this end, the disability studies program has supported the formation of the GDA and the council’s efforts to provide a platform for disability rights on campus. “The disability studies program very much supports
“disability is an identity,” she said. “it’s an empowering one for many people.”
the Georgetown Disability Alliance and everything that they do,” Rifkin said, adding that the GDA has plans to co-sponsor events with the program in coming weeks, beginning with their recent Disability and Inclusion in the Entertainment Industry event. While the leadership team of the GDA expressed excitement at the program’s relationship with the club, that partnership is hardly the only change the council hopes to see. Some ideas the council posits include a new accessibility coordinator position on campus, a designated study area for students with disabilities, and a disability minor pre-orientation program which would allow students to move in early and begin building a community immediately. One suggestion that has gained traction in recent years is a disability cultural center, similar to other centers on campus like the Women’s Center and the LGBTQ Center. Rifkin sees the potential benefits of such a center, which would outlast graduating students, and recognizes
the complexities surrounding students with disabilities. “I think they’re onto something there,” Rifkin said. “Disability is an identity and a community and that there should be a locus, a place for people to come together around that.” Brown, who advocated for a disability cultural center during their time at Georgetown, said that the nature of college life often makes it difficult for student activists to build lasting movements. “One of the biggest problems for doing any kind of campus organizing, is that there’s a lack of institutional knowledge passing groups of students to groups of students, because roughly every four years, there will be near-complete turnover of the student body,” Brown said. While this precedent has been set, the GDA has set out to be different. Bialek believes that a culture of distributing responsibilities will make the difference between previous iterations which only had one strong leader. “I think what we aimed our model to be is that we aren’t looking to run [the club] on an individual, president, vice president general structure level,” Bialek said. “If we do it more as a community, a council, or a board, there are more individuals involved and you can get a range of individuals from different years involved so we can have more longevity in that sense.” The efforts of the six student leaders culminated at their first meeting on Oct. 1. “I thought it went really well,” Landre said. “We had a great turnout and the people who turned out were very interested. They shared a lot and participated a lot and shared a lot of ideas with us about what this club should be, which is exactly what we wanted.” At the meeting, the club addressed the 12 attendees and defined their three main tenants: education, advocacy, and community. Education will focus on making the members of the club and students in the larger Georgetown community more aware of disability rights issues on and off campus. The GDA’s advocacy pillar is focused on promoting disability rights and justice. On campus, they’re looking to encourage institutional policy changes at the administrative level, but they also have their sights set beyond the front gates. The GDA hopes to leverage Georgetown’s location in D.C. to advocate for change at the municipal and national level. Finally, the GDA will focus on community building, inside and outside of the club. The council hopes to see this manifest in partnerships and events with other clubs and organizations, and to see students create a support system on campus. Winkler firmly believes that connecting with other students with similar experiences can help strengthen one’s sense of self. “Disability is an identity,” she said. “It’s an empowering one for many people.” Brown, for one, is thrilled to see the GDA come together. “There has never been an advocacy-focused disability organization at Georgetown in all of its history, so it is incredible and important that this is happening now,” they said. “I’m really excited to see where it’s going to go.” Moving forward, the council is looking to gain full club status in the next year, bringing with it university recognition and funding. Once that process has been completed, the council can pivot to their larger goal of persisting far into the future. For Brown, the long term goal is simpler. “I hope that in three to five years from now that it will no longer be exciting news that disabled activism is happening at Georgetown.” G October 11, 2019
Joker's Great Presentation Doesn't Excuse its Abhorrent Message STEVEN FROST
rthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) has a bad life. His renta-clown job doesn’t pay enough for him to afford a nice apartment, his therapist can’t get funding to prescribe him enough medication for his mental illness, and he’s stuck in a society that doesn’t care about him or seem to notice he exists. He’s just one more disaffected loner living in a Gotham City where politicians and the media prefer to mock those who are suffering instead of listening to their problems. Fleck is perpetually abused at the hands of his employer, his fellow citizens, and the system as a whole. Then one day he fights back, killing three Wall Street scumbags who tried to assault him. Instead of recoiling at the violence, the people of Gotham embrace it, turning Fleck’s clown costume into a symbol of rebellion against their elite oppressors. The person most affected by the killings, however, is Fleck himself. After fleeing the scene, he stops to look at himself in the mirror. Then he smiles and starts to dance. In that moment, the man named Arthur Fleck is gone and replaced by the monster known as Joker. At its core, Joker (2019) is a portrait of a broken man in a broken city and the horrifying ways they feed into each other. Though it is technically a comic book movie, Joker eschews most genre conventions, elevating itself above usual blockbuster fare to become a more serious drama. The film emphasizes character development and political commentary rather than action and spectacle. This allows writer and director Todd Phillips to delve deeper into Fleck’s psyche and its impact on the world around him. Yet this more introspective storytelling style allows the film to explore themes that are intensely disturbing. The philosophy that Joker posits is dark, nihilistic, and violent. Yet, by any technical measure, Joker is a masterpiece. The cinematography is gorgeous, finding beautiful compositions in the grimy, scummy world of Gotham City. Composer Hildur Guðnadóttir’s score mixes aggressive, dissonant strings and percussion with ironically cheery pop music to disturbing effect. These elements draw us into Fleck’s world, helping us understand what sort of mindset and
environment would create a monster like Joker. The script is also particularly effective, depicting the character’s decline as a slow accumulation of grievances leading toward a descent into madness instead of a sudden snap that turns him evil. Much of the film’s success lies in Joaquin Phoenix’s powerhouse performance. Phoenix fully embodies a man on the brink, using his hollow-eyed stare and contorting, sunken-chested physique to convey a character edging towards madness. As the film progresses, he subtly shifts Fleck’s posture and mannerisms, adding in confident swagger bit by bit until Joker is totally different from his former identity. The tool Phoenix uses best, however, is laughter. Fleck has a condition that causes him to laugh uncontrollably, which Phoenix displays to unsettling effect. His laugh is a hacking, sobbing cackle that bursts from him at the most inappropriate and disturbing times. It’s the laugh of a character barely suppressing his anguish, a character who laughs because if he didn’t, he’d have no choice but to cry. It’s an amazing touch that separates Phoenix’s performance and makes Arthur Fleck the only sympathetic version of Joker in cinema. All the effort that Joker takes to create a relatable main character is what makes this film so disturbing. We are asked to see the protagonist as an inspiration for the citizens of Gotham, emboldening them to rise up against the system that oppresses them. We are asked to see Joker, a mass murderer and one of the most infamous psychopaths in film history, as a folk hero. When he kills, the powerful and the cruel condemn him, but the masses exalt him and use him as a symbol. Their praise only fuels his own warped psychology, giving him confidence and purpose that he never had before. By the end of the film, Fleck dances on the hood of a wrecked police car, surrounded by a crowd of cheering rioters in clown masks. For the first time in his life, other people notice him, and he feels seen. That’s what makes this film so uniquely dangerous. Compelling depictions of violence and violent characters are incredibly common in cinema, but illustrations of
photos courtesy of imdb; design by allison derose and alex giorno
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characters being lauded for violence and feeling better because of it are much rarer. Within Joker, there is a logic to the violence, a cause and effect pattern that makes Fleck’s killings beneficial both to himself and society as a whole. The fault for his condition is laid at the feet of a system that ignored and abused him, but the solution isn’t systemic. It’s personal and destructive. Because we are so connected to Fleck’s viewpoint throughout the film, we understand why he kills and, in the warped logic this movie puts forward, we see how it makes sense. “What do you get when you cross a mentally-ill loner with a society that abandons him and treats him like trash? ... You get what you fucking deserve!” This “joke,” delivered in the lead up to a murder and then repeated over and over in the finale, may as well be a thesis statement for the film. It’s a dark, brutal movie that claims violence is a rational solution to problems both personal and societal. It may be artistic and well-made, but that’s just decoration to cover an abhorrent ideology in a veneer of prestige. By the end of the film, it’s not just Fleck who’s wearing a clown mask, it's all the protestors. One clown has turned into many. Anyone can wear the clown mask. Anyone can be Joker. G
Man Man and GRLwood Bring Energy and Oddity to the Black Cat LUCY COOK
icture six men in sparkling purple full, particularly in rousing, fast-paced cloaks playing various obscure songs like “Hurly/Burly.” instruments beside a disembodied deer Before Man Man performed, however, head enshrined in flowers. This image two-piece punk band GRLwood brought fire perfectly captures the mood of indie to the stage with their self-defined “scream rock group Man Man’s performance pop.” Vocalist/guitarist Rej Forester and at the Black Cat on Oct 2. Man Man is a drummer Karen Ledford impressed the Philadelphia-based band often described crowd, creating an incredibly dynamic as experimental, though in an interview sound from only their two instruments. with CLTure, frontman Ryan Kattner, Their sound is aggressive and loud with a better known by his stage name Honus surf-rock undertone. This was amplified Honus, rejected the term as potentially by Forester’s vocals, which switched alienating. Their discography itself, which from soft crooning to tearful whining and has consisted of five studio culminated with screaming albums since 2004, is for that could put the Ring the most part lively and Wraiths to shame. accessible, albeit absurd. Most of the songs the The group has only released pair played were from two new singles in 2019, their 2018 album Daddy, “Beached” and “Witch,” including “Bisexual,” “Im and their setlist on this Yer Dad,” and “Vaccines most recent tour consisted Made Me Gay.” “I Hate My of songs from across their Mom” was the only song Get Shot discography. Man Man’s GRLwood performed off performance at the Black their most recent album I I'm Having Sex Tonight Cat showcased the group’s Sold My Soul To The Devil raucous and unusual When I Was 12 (2019), but Grlwood instrumentalism, for which it carried the most weight. Gold they are best known, as well Anger is palpable in all of the as their zany personality. duo’s songs, which address I Hate My Mom Man Man’s performance biphobia, sexual orientation, Time style, much like their harassment, and broken personality, is unique. familial relationships. But “I Take off Your Clothes While their music centers Hate My Mom” was the only on the piano playing of performance where tears Donald Honus Honus, the multicould be seen in Forester’s F**k Me Up instrumentalism of the eyes. While GRLwood’s other members adds style of music differs greatly A-State dimension and character in both theme and delivery to their sound. Often, from Man Man, they opened No Tongue members would even the night explosively Hard to Touch You switch to new instruments and set the tone for the mid-song. Most notably, evening. Both GRLwood Gay 4 U they wielded a doubleand Man Man bring life and necked guitar, saxophone, innovation to their music I'm Not Afraid of You keyboard, drums, a variety by bending preconceived of brass instruments, genres and introducing new maracas, various toy performance styles. noisemakers, and, at one point, a skeletal Prior to Man Man’s opening number, rib-cage decked out with doubloons. This a rendition of “Cloud 9,” Honus Honus made their sound incredibly diverse and and his cloaked cronies—one of whom
had only the left half of a beard—walked “Whalebones” is one of the band’s longest around the stage wafting sage incense and slowest songs, and it seemed a fitting into the crowd. This unusual introduction wind-down from a show filled with noise foreshadowed many bizarre breaks in and life. the set. At one point, saxophonist Pee In a music industry steadily becoming Wee Tay Tay snuck his way offstage and saturated with electronic and artificially into the crowd to dance while wearing an produced sound, from EDM to lo-fi study askew bald cap. jams, it is incredibly refreshing to witness Man Man satisfied the eager crowd, Man Man celebrate and embrace the mostly made up of white adults in their potential of instrumentalism. Both Man late twenties and thirties, by playing fan Man and GRLwood exemplify what live favorites such as “Head On,” “Engrish performance should be about: a showcase Bwudd,” and “Loot My Body.” They of what human beings can create simply performed music from through instruments each of their studio albums, and their own creativity. from The Man in the Blue They mesh together Turban (2004) to On Oni genres that appear to be Pond (2013). Proving to be opposites, like screama dedicated fanbase, many rock and pop, and play audience members sang instruments you’ve never along to not only the fan heard of—sousaphone, favorites but some deep anyone? And they do it cuts as well, like “Bangkok right before your eyes. Beached Necktie” and “The Ballad Performance is supposed of Butter Beans.” to make the audience Witch Crowd engagement was feel alive, and part of central to the performance, that must be projected and Honus Honus often from the performers. interacted with the audience members GRLwood’s anger and tears and Man packed into the intimate upper room of Man’s spontaneity and sincerity translate the Black Cat, requesting that they mimic into their music in a way that leaves the the screams or odd noises that he would audience exhilarated. Hopefully they make into the microphone. During the and other artists are able to continue to performance of “Loot My Body,” the band emulate this energy, ingenuity, and fullness passed a life-sized plastic skeleton into the of sound in their live performances so that crowd. The audience excitedly lifted the more audiences can experience the awe of skeleton so it could crowd surf. watching musicians that they love express After around an hour and a half, themselves to the fullest. Especially if this broken up by planned bits—drummer Jazz expression includes said artist holding a Diesel playing the Law and Order theme taxidermied deer head up to the heavens, while Honus Honus donned a fur coat, accompanied by a wicked guitar solo.G for example—and off the cuff moments, like Honus Honus spontaneously laying on stage for several minutes and leaving the other members to sing in his place, Man Man closed their set with “Whalebones,” from their album Rabbit Habits (2008).
photos courtesy of anti records and grlwood; design by tim adami
October 11, 2019
Mr. GEORGETOWN Voice isn’t the only thing that’s
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