A P R I L 2 9, 2 0 2 2
AFTER YEARS OF ACTIVISM, STUDENT ADVOCATES REFLECT ON EXHAUSTION By Franziska Wild
LOVE LETTER, HATE MAIL: MAKING MEANING AT GEORGETOWN By Allie Cho
‘THE COOKOUT’ ENSHRINES BLACK JOY, BUILDS COMMUNITY By Ajani Jones
April 29, 2022 Volume 54 | Issue 15
Editor-In-Chief Sarah Watson Managing Editor Max Zhang
Love Letter, Hate Mail: Making meaning at Georgetown
internal resources Editor for RDI Darren Jian Editor for Sexual Sophie Tafazzoli Violence Coverage Service Chair Annemarie Cuccia Social Chair Alice Gao
Grief is the ghost we don't know how to talk about NORA SCULLY
Executive Editor Features Editor News Editor Assistant News Editors
'The Cookout' enshrines Black joy, builds community AJANI JONES
How the medical housing process reinforces ableism at Georgetown
Let's Talk About Fight Club: GU Club Boxing hosts first showcase since 2019
Brittney Griner has been stuck in Russia for months. Here's what you need to know.
After years of activism, student advocates reflect on exhaustion
GRAHAM KREWINGHAUS, TIM TAN, AND MICHAEL TANG
D.C.’s renewed Emancipation Day celebration marks 160th anniversary
on the cover
Rx shows ROLE MODEL revived in a whirl of passion, devotion, and vibrant sensation EMMA CHUCK
Vote for progressive D.C. challengers on June 21!
10 songs to take you back 10 years, because music peaked in 2012
Nearly 41 years in, the White House Peace Vigil perseveres
opinion Executive Editor Annette Hasnas Voices Editor Sarah Craig Assistant Voices Editors James Garrow, Kulsum Gulamhusein, Lou Jacquin Editorial Board Chair Advait Arun Editorial Board Annemarie Cuccia, William Hammond, Annabella Hoge, Jupiter Huang, Paul James, Darren Jian, Allison O’Donnell, Sarah Watson, Alec Weiker, John Woolley, Max Zhang leisure Executive Editor John Woolley Leisure Editor Lucy Cook Assistant Editors Pierson Cohen, Maya Kominsky, Alexandra Lenehan Halftime Editor Chetan Dokku Assistant Halftime Editors Adora Adeyemi, Ajani Jones, Gokul Sivakumar sports Executive Editor Tim Tan Sports Editor Hayley Salvatore Assistant Editors Andrew Arnold, Lucie Peyrebrune, Thomas Fischbeck Halftime Editor Carlos Rueda Assistant Halftime Editors Langston Lee, Natalia Porras, Dylan Vasan Executive Editor Spread Editors Cover Editor Assistant Design Editors
design Allison DeRose Alex Giorno, Connor Martin Deborah Han Insha Momin, Sabrina Shaffer, Dane Tedder, Sean Ye
copy Copy Chief Maya Knepp Assistant Copy Editors Kenny Boggess, Maanasi Chintamani, Julia Rahimzadeh Editors Donovan Barnes, Christopher Boose, Jennifer Guo, Ian Tracy, Anna Vernacchio multimedia Executive Editor John Woolley Podcast Editor Jillian Seitz Assistant Podcast Editor Alexes Merritt Photo Editor Annemarie Cuccia online Website Editor Tyler Salensky Social Media Editor Emma Chuck Assistant Social Media Editor Franziska Wild
news Nora Scully Annabella Hoge Paul James Margaret Hartigan, Jupiter Huang, Graham Krewinghaus
“For the first time in the year that I’ve been here, I actually felt like a Hoya.” PG. 10
business General Manager Megan O’Malley Assistant Manager of Akshadha Lagisetti Accounts & Sales Assistant Manager of Abby Smith Alumni Outreach support Contributing Editors Sarina Dev, Ethan Greer, Caroline Hamilton,
Josh Klein, Roman Peregrino, Orly Salik, Sophie Tafazzoli, Abby Webster
Staff Contributors Nathan Barber, Nicholas Budler, Cecilia Cassidy,
email@example.com Leavey 424 Box 571066 Georgetown University 3700 O St. NW Washington, DC 20057
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.
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photo courtesy of the office of campus ministry
Natalie Chaudhuri, Romita Chattaraj, Leon Cheung, Elin Choe, Erin Ducharme, Panna Gattyan, Andrea Ho, Christine Ji, Julia Kelly, Steven Kingkiner, Lily Kissinger, Ashley Kulberg, David McDaniels, Amelia Myre, Anna Sofia Neil, Owen Posnett, Omar Rahim, Brett Rauch, Nicholas Riccio, Caroline Samoluk, Ryan Samway, Michelle Serban, Isabel Shepherd, Amelia Shotwell, Jo Stephens, Isabelle Stratta, Francesca Theofilou, Diego Ventero, Amelia Wanamaker, Hailey Wharram, Jina Zhao
mmond, g, Paul Donnell, hn
An eclectic collection of jokes, puns, doodles, playlists, and news clips from the collective mind of the Voice staff.
→ NOTE FROM WATSON
→ GOSSIP RAT
Greetings Voice readers,
Gossip Rat here, with piping hot tea, for the final time this semester.
This is our last issue of the semester—and my last as Editorin-Chief. After 15 issues this past year, five semesters of editing, and unhinged late nights I’ll never forget, I am happily ready to “wash up.” I’m bloody grateful. I’m also proud—not just of the Voice, but the resilience of our community. We’ve endured a lot. We reinstated our presence, and, as these pieces demonstrate, caring students put in hard work to make campus better. We have a long way to go, but I know we’re on our way. And Voice, I’ll always be your #1 fan, reading its pages ‘til I’m old and grey.
I’d like to begin with some thank yous. Facilities Management, thank you, for testing the New South fire alarm system eight hours a day five days a week. I enjoy the insanity, particularly the freshmen screams. Hoya Eats, thank you, for the cockroaches in my salad, for the norovirus, and the fear that our lives hung on the balance of one raw chicken. It’s the little things.
Sarah Watson Spring 2023)
Robert Groves and Jeanne Lord, thank you, for reminding us that Georgetown Day is an instruction day, and full participation in rat lecture is REQUIRED. You should arrive to class sober, leave hallucinating (rat class is a drug), and follow that up with a discussion of Roman Catholicism at “Brunch with the Jesuits” (code for your blackout). To our seniors, you may be leaving campus, but you will never escape me. Our love is beyond borders. Let your previous life, your hardwork, and your past lovers come to dust like your Georgetown experience. You’ll never forget your nights with me. I’ll always love you more than anyone. Finally, as I’ve overheard everything you’ve ever said in Leo’s, Leavey, the shower room, and Lau, and seen everything you’ve done on your hard Vil A couch, thank you to everyone for one disgusting semester. Here’s to many more to come. Happy Georgetown Day. xoxo, Gossip Rat
→ GRAHAM'S CROSSWORD
26: Slips up 28: Nashville-to-DC dir. 32: Rent out 34: Flops at the ticket booths, as a movie 37: Keeps afloat 39: PreCheck org. 40: Wildebeests 41: American Dad and Full Frontal airer 43: Lil Wayne’s ___ Carter series 44: Apiece 46: Corrosive chemical 47: Airport timetable abbr. 48: “Thou ___ lady”: King Lear 49: Peak 51: It’s a cypher and you don’t have the key 57: Big Boi’s half of Outkast’s 2003 double album 58: Actor McKellen 59: Madrid Mmes.
Hamilton, Salik, Sophie
ia Cassidy, Leon anna a Kelly, ey Kulberg, Sofia tt Rauch, yan Samway, melia a, Francesca namaker,
crossword by graham krewinghaus; noir rat by dane tedder
Across: 4: “For the Love of ____”: 2009 VH1 reality show about this singer seeking a partner 8: Paper that covers the NYSE 11: Late “SAD!” and “Look at me!” rapper 14: He’s a drowsy logger? 18: Contentiously sought-after
Western alliance grp. 20: ___ of Man: British Crown dependency 21: Prefix for cycle or pod 22: Athletic conference that “just means more.” 23: Be-all ___-all 24: Large quantity 25: Young bloke
Down: 3: Oxfordshire for short 4: Well-___: having had a good night’s sleep 5: Vietnam city attacked in 1972 6: “And you?” in Andalusia 7: “Slow Jamz”, “Blame It”, and “Unpredictable”, to name a few 8: Brandish, as a blade 9: Achy
10: Vaccine co. 12: 60 Minutes airer 15: Entices 16: See 29-Down 17: Relatives 19: Blind ___ bat 25: Sidewalk stand purchase 26: Will Ferrell Christmas movie 27: Non-urban outfitters 28: Flow companion 29: With 16-Down, British term for game played thrice within this crossword 33: Spanish “that” 35: Provo, Ut. school 36: Snake’s sound 41: Laid-back personalities 42: One in a swarm 43: Boston’s infamous Party 44: Primp or doll up 45: “At Last” singer James 46: Thief in Rome 48: COVID stimulus package that dished out $1.9 trillion in total 50: Gossip Girl sign-off 52: CBS franchise with NY and Miami spin-offs 53: “___ the ramparts we watched…” Note: Numbered spaces without clues can be filled in according to the theme. (Hint: look at 29 down)
APRIL 29, 2022
Love Letter, Hate Mail: Making meaning at Georgetown BY ALLIE CHO
n August of 2018, I moved across the country to start my freshman year of college. As our plane began its descent into Reagan airport, we passed glowing monuments—the smooth dome of the Jefferson, the sharp corners of the Lincoln, the tall obelisk of the Washington— and I felt an electric tingling in my stomach. I was leaving home to attend Georgetown, a four-year journey that I thought would be the best part of my life. As a senior, I remember that moment with both fondness and melancholy. In truth, my college experience has not been the reverie that I imagined. When prompted to reflect on my time at Georgetown, I immediately think about my most difficult moments here. There are many: late nights in dimly-lit Lau cubicles, being sent home during the pandemic, and the weeks when I felt so exhausted that I could barely get out of bed. I spent years constantly feeling overworked and yet still behind— feelings both created and compounded by Georgetown’s stress culture. On campus, I was overwhelmed by pressure to do more: take extra classes, get better grades, engage in research, join another club, apply for a leadership position, an internship, a job. After seeking help, my mental health has improved since those early years. But I can still remember the intensity of that sadness, and I don’t think I’ll ever disentangle Georgetown from the depression and anxiety that I experienced here. My Georgetown experience has also been characterized by a pervasive feeling of loneliness. Attending this school is a privilege, and I recognize that my being here is a result of the advantages I’ve had in my life. But as a woman of color from the Bay Area, it has been extremely challenging to be in an environment where the majority of my peers are white, exceedingly affluent East-Coasters. In my eight semesters here, I’ve been in a group project with another WOC fewer than five times. It’s a startling statistic that, in and of itself, exemplifies how ubiquitous whiteness is at Georgetown. I’ve felt nervous and intimidated around many of my peers and am often confronted by casual racism—
THE GEORGETOWN VOICE
passing comments, raised eyebrows, poor intonation—from professors and classmates. I am never sure whether I should respond or let their comments go; both options leave me uncomfortable and disheartened. This feeling of isolation was strongest in spring 2021, after the shooting of seven Asian women in Atlanta. I cried that day, both because I was afraid and because there were so few people that I felt comfortable turning to for support. For me, part of being a Georgetown student always includes the anticipated relief I’ll feel when I arrive back in Oakland—my home, a city with significantly more socioeconomic and racial diversity. I can’t completely disparage my time in college, because good things have come out of my years here, too. I’ve worked with truly incredible faculty members, taken engaging classes, and traveled across the world to study. My Georgetown education will serve me long after graduation, and I am so grateful to have had access to this school’s resources. Most importantly, I’ve made close friends and good memories here. I loved the weekend trip that my friends and I took during freshman year, when we piled into a minivan and drove to a cornflower-blue rental house in Chesapeake Beach. I can’t imagine junior spring without my quiet apartment in Glover Park, and I can’t picture senior year without Thursday dinners with my best friend. I’ve walked around all the monuments, visited the Smithsonians, danced at every formal I could get to, and stayed up talking and watching Jeopardy! with my housemates for more nights than I remember. Even when alone, I’ve enjoyed beautiful, quiet moments at Georgetown, too—like the way the sun makes Healy Hall glow in the early morning, the blooming tulips and cherry blossoms in the spring, and the yellow-orange-red foliage that dusts the streets in the fall. In the last months, I’ve struggled with how to make sense of these two conflicting ideas: the Georgetown I’ve hated—that I’ve fought with and cried over and wanted to leave— and the snippets of Georgetown that I can
write about so fondly. These memories are so radically different from one another that it sometimes feels like I attended two colleges. What does it mean to have these experiences coexist? Do they negate one another? Was Georgetown good, or was it bad? These questions produce other feelings of guilt and sadness. My family has given so much—money, time, and emotional support— for me to attend this school. Having such a complicated relationship with college feels like a dismissal of their sacrifices. I also feel a profound sense of loss over not being able to enjoy Georgetown more. I know many people that love this school wholeheartedly, and it often feels like I missed out on something special. Like I was standing on the edge of a diving board, but was prevented from taking the plunge. But maybe the answer is more complicated than that. I don’t know Georgetown without these moments of joy, and I don’t know Georgetown without these periods of deep sadness. After living through the intensity of both, it is hard for me to imagine what my life would look like without either. Maybe these memories can only be held alongside one another—not in dissonance, but as different pieces that make up my college experience. Everyone says that these four years are supposed to be the best ones of your life. I don’t think they are mine (at least, I hope they aren’t), and as graduation approaches, I’m trying to grapple with my mixed feelings toward Georgetown without blaming or judging myself. College is an exciting, significant part of many people’s lives, but it is also extremely challenging. We shouldn’t need to love every part for it to provide meaning. My time here has pushed me to grow, proved my resilience, and taught me about what I value in my life and relationships. To me, Georgetown was not the best. At times, it wasn’t even good. But being here has been memorable, formative, and life-changing. Perhaps that was what college was meant to be—for me. I hope that one day, I feel like that is enough. G
design by sabrina shaffer
Grief is the ghost we don't know how to talk about BY NORA SCULLY
rief is a ghost that follows me around wherever I go. Sometimes I can forget about it—I can have fun, I can enjoy myself, I can have a really good day or week or even month that makes it feel like the ghost is gone. But then, Bam. I’ll see or hear something that recalls a certain memory, like eating Brussels sprouts just like the ones my dad used to cook, and it’s a fullbody reminder that the hauntings don’t just end. Grief is a nebulous concept: It’s sadness, for sure, but also can look like every other emotion in the book. Sometimes the loss of what could’ve been hurts, but there are also happy memories, funny memories, memories that make you smile, even if wistfully. In a society littered with cultural taboos around conversations about death, processing these memories and healing is slow and difficult, exacerbating the difficulties of loss. Time doesn’t heal all wounds (contrary to some of the worst advice I was given after my dad died) and can even make it harder to share. My dad died a little more than three years ago, and it feels much harder to pop this into conversation compared to when it was more recent and people around me were more familiar. More than 20 percent of undergraduates are in their first year of bereavement. The pandemic has only exacerbated this issue: One in four COVID-19 deaths in America are parents—meaning nearly 140,000 children lost a parent or caregiver in the last two years, a crisis that most severely impacts children of color. But despite this concrete evidence that I am not the only person in bereavement, grief isn’t normalized. Even among others processing loss, I sometimes find conversations about grief tough. Each person’s grief is their own—for better and for worse. Sophia Dembling, a writer whose husband passed away in 2020, summed it up quite nicely two years later in Psychology Today: “Grief is both universal and intensely personal.” And it’s true; though my grieving shares characteristics with others’, it is also uniquely mine. It’s particularly difficult to reconstruct a picture of my dad nowadays for those who never
graphic by jina zhao; layout by allison derose
knew him. They don’t know he blew his nose like a foghorn; or that he loved to grill even when it was 100 degrees outside; or that he had a favorite child (our cat, Skippy); or that he showed his love in really subtle ways, like cooking or keeping my report cards or fixing my car, that I could never appreciate while he was alive. It is impossible to convey all of that out loud. Sometimes, the person is hard just to remember. In other ways, it’s hard to bring up the death of a loved one without being a total mood killer. I once told someone my dad “wasn’t in my life anymore,” despite him being a) very much a big part of my life, and b) very dead, to avoid the weird emotional dynamics of “I’m sorry” and the awkward silences that come after someone finds out he passed away. For some conversations, I just avoid bringing up his death altogether. Rather than dealing with apologies or questions, I then have to cope with feeling like I’m lying by omission. At Georgetown, for some reason, it’s common to talk about what your parents do for a living— perhaps an ode to the pre-professional culture. But at what point in a conversation discussing how my dad used to be a registered nurse is it appropriate (or necessary) for me to include he’s dead? Most of the time I don’t at all. In a society where conversations about grief aren’t normalized, where there is this invisible barrier to communicating an essential part of life, it can be doubly hard to grieve. But to healthily process my emotions, I’ve got to be able to talk about them—or at least, be unafraid of the social consequences should I choose to. Healing from grief is a necessary life skill, both in that it is a part of life, and requisite to a healthy one. Not that it’s the fault of those who don't know how to react; I can understand the feeling of not knowing what to say to those who have lost someone. I’ve Googled countless advice articles to help friends experiencing similar struggles. Sure, they provide a template, and often have bits of useful advice speckled throughout—but until my dad died, it was hard for me to process the sheer scope of grief. No single article can encapsulate it. Grief is not a one-and-done kind of deal. I wish it were. The first weeks without your loved one can be the absolute worst— adjusting to this person-sized hole in your life is not easy, nor should it be. But there’s no blood to congeal, no Band-Aid that could fix the hurt that stays with you for the rest of your life. There will always be moments
where my grief sucker punches me in the face and it hurts just as much as the day my dad died. But when people feel as though conversations about this pain aren’t normalized, the process of grieving—which, let me tell you, already sucks—is worsened. Grief will always be a difficult topic, but it doesn’t have to be—nor should it be—a taboo one. It can’t be, actually, if we as a society want to heal from loss. I can’t tell you exactly how to talk about grief, or how to help a loved one that’s grieving. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to death. Hell, it would be so much easier if there was. I certainly looked for one after my dad died. I just ask you to approach people with empathy and not be deterred if they mention grief. Let conversations about death and deceased loved ones happen. Make them a regular part of your life. But a word of advice: Think twice before asking someone about their parents—a lot of people don’t have two. Let the person you’re talking with set the pace of the conversation—be prepared to discuss it if they want, but don’t place the emotional burden on them to explain their grief. Don’t ask why their loved one died. Why do you care? What good will my answer, which will no doubt make me a little sad, do for you? There are billions of people in the world, all with their own personal ghosts haunting them, and unless people tell you they’re grieving, you may never know. So be consciously and intentionally empathetic. G
APRIL 29, 2022
How the medical housing process reinforces ableism at Georgetown
by sarah craig-
here’s an unmatched agony I associate with the university housing process. Each spring, housing season sends students into a mid-semester frenzy. Between solidifying roommate groups and hoping for a good lottery number, finding housing for the upcoming academic year is nothing short of complicated. But my attempts to secure housing have always required more than the typical stress. Because rather than going through the regular on-campus housing process, I must navigate the seemingly infinite challenges of the medical housing process. I have endured the medical housing process four times, each of which furthered my level of frustration and exhaustion. What I once looked forward to as a means of ensuring accessible campus housing I now understand as a task characterized by bureaucracy and ableism. Medical housing is a resource provided by the Academic Resource Center (ARC) for students who require housing accommodations because of a disability, chronic illness, or other condition. To apply for university-provided medical housing, students must first submit a request form to the ARC along with documentation that verifies their condition. The ARC then works with Residential Living to place students in housing spaces that meet their accommodation requests. What may sound simple is, in reality, a confusing and strenuous process that has the ability to further the systemic harm that disabled students at Georgetown regularly face. One of the most immediate issues presented by the medical housing application process is that it encourages students to over-explain their reasons for seeking housing accommodations. Rather than asking for a basic disclosure of a disability-related need for medical housing—which can be verified by a health professional—the structure of the 6
THE GEORGETOWN VOICE
application often results in students having to overelaborate on their conditions to “prove” why they need accommodations. When I applied for medical housing as a freshman, I was willing to do almost anything to secure the accommodations I needed, including going into an invasive level of detail about my needs on the initial request form. I didn’t really feel comfortable disclosing details about my disabilities to complete strangers, but I knew that the ARC were the ones who ultimately decided my living situation. It felt as if this was the only way that I could guarantee the access that I required. Despite the isolation I felt during the process, I eventually learned that I’m not the only student who has felt pressured to overshare. When Gwyneth Murphy (SFS ’23) was first accepted to Georgetown, she immediately requested medical housing for the coming fall. “My strategy was ‘I cannot be denied’—like, I needed this medical housing, so I would rather overshare than under share,” she said. Pressure to overshare is what disability scholars often refer to as forced intimacy: When disabled people are expected to disclose personal details of their disability just to obtain bare-minimum accommodations. The practice is a pillar of ableism, as it often gives able-bodied people deciding authority over whether or not a disabled person’s access needs will be met. This phenomenon is exemplified on the medical housing request form, where students are asked to share the reasoning behind their request. The form states that “there should be a clear connection between the request and the justification.” In my experience, though, such a form prioritizes a student’s justification over their access needs. The detail required by the request form shows just
how fundamental forced intimacy is to the medical housing process. When Elena Evans (NHS ’22) first applied for medical housing, it was immediately apparent that a basic disclosure of her conditions was considered inadequate by the ARC’s standards. “It takes you having to divulge everything about your past, about your medical history—that is also not supposed to be shared—and pressures you to do it in a specific way by a certain deadline,” Evans said of obtaining accommodations. But forced intimacy is merely one of many problems with medical housing. Even after students divulge the details of their condition and its related traumas, they still have to navigate the process’ bureaucracy. The red tape inherent to obtaining housing accommodations requires communication with different offices (the ARC and Residential Living), which makes it easy for information to be lost and mistakes to be made, in turn only heightening the confusion associated with securing housing. “There’s a lot of flaws with the way that [the process] functions, and a lot of miscommunication between the ARC and the Res Living,” Murphy said, reflecting on her experience freshman year. “It’s communication between dual departments that have different understandings of disability, and so that’s part of what causes the issue.” Murphy is one of the students driving the push for a Disability Cultural Center, and the current GUSA Accessibility Coordinator. From her perspective, many of the issues with the medical housing process stem from how Residential Living treats disabled students. “I think that Residential Living needs to undergo a full disability accessibility training— ideally student-led,” she said. “There need to be people in the ARC who are specifically
design by insha momin
dedicated to housing, as opposed to bridging two entirely different departments, because that just does not work.” According to Evans, the ARC contributes to miscommunication and delays. In the process of pursuing accommodations for the current academic year, Evans was told that she hadn’t submitted her documentation to the ARC, despite having sent it several weeks before. She already had documentation from the previous housing cycle. The situation was only resolved after two months of back-and-forth emails and frustration, Evans said. “I did not feel respected at all,” she said. “It was some of the most blatantly disrespectful communication I’ve had with an official office.” As someone whose medical housing experiences have been characterized by passiveaggressive email threads, I resonate with this sentiment. It reminds me that some people will always view my identity as a disabled person as an inconvenience that needs to be handled. “Clearly, we don’t matter to them,” Evans said, referring to the ARC. “I wonder what would happen if we had a disabled donor or big name. Maybe then we would actually start getting stuff done.” Logistical technicalities also complicate the process. Students pursuing accommodations are unable to apply a requested accommodation to an already chosen space; rather, they must list their accommodation requests, and then Residential Living identifies a space that meets them. However, the identified space will only meet the specified accommodations, nothing more. For example, if a student needs a single room, and lists only this request on their accommodation request form, they would likely get placed in a single room in a traditional residential building such as Southwest Quad. They wouldn’t be able to have a single in an apartment with chosen roommates—even if they were a rising junior or senior—because that would require justifying why they need a kitchen and why they should be able to name their roommates. This procedure has made me feel that I must choose between having my access needs met and being a “typical” college student who wants to live with friends and cook my meals. It should be perfectly reasonable for the two to coexist without much effort on the university’s part. Murphy had a similar conflict when she was looking to live in the Muslim Interest Living Community (MILC), a living learning community (LLC) in Alumni Square. Murphy had been accepted to MILC before her sophomore year began, providing her with a confirmed housing space before she even submitted her medical housing request. What should have been a simple process of applying her housing accommodations to her designated space within MILC quickly became a logistical disaster. Residential Living had accidentally double housed her, assigning her to another space than the one in MILC. When Murphy contacted Residential Living, they responded that they hadn’t realized that
she applied to MILC, and that they had in fact overbooked the LLC. Understandably, Murphy was frustrated—and this intensified after Residential Living failed to rectify the situation. “Rather than admitting their mistake and saying, ‘Okay, we’ll have to reevaluate who gets accepted or will have to make space,’ they told me that I would have to give up my medical housing accommodations or be kicked out [of MILC].” This situation is not only frustrating, but also potentially illegal. According to non-discrimination laws for disabled people such as the Fair Housing Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973—laws that Georgetown is required to comply with for federal funding—students cannot be asked to give up their accommodations because of a mistake on the university’s part. “[The] accommodations process complies with applicable disability laws and is consistent with best practices in higher education,” a university spokesperson wrote in an email to the Voice. Joe Fisher, the executive director of the ARC, contributed to the university statement. Murphy, however, is not the only one to experience potentially illegal mishaps. When Evans was struggling to obtain accommodations for her senior year, she began researching nondiscrimination laws applicable to students with disabilities. In fact, it was only once Evans mentioned these laws to the ARC that the office was able to resolve her months-long housing conflict in only a matter of hours. “It shouldn’t take me listing legalities in order to receive accommodations,” she said. Upon further research, there are several parts of the medical housing process that threaten breaking the law. A potential legal concern has to do with the deadlines. According to Section 504, students are welcome to request accommodations from the university at any given time. The ARC, however, implements a first and second consideration deadline for medical housing requests. The university complies with the law by providing a rolling option, with requests processed on a weekly basis. “We do not refuse consideration of any requests regardless of when or in what format they arrive, but we do ask students to follow the University's established procedures,” the university spokesperson wrote. However, there is often a waitlist for medical housing, even after the first consideration deadline; so if you miss the official first consideration window, you’re not guaranteed the same availability of medical housing-designated spaces the second time around. Of course, there is an organizational benefit to having priority deadlines for all medical housing requests. But the short window provided for the first consideration deadline (Feb. 4–Feb. 11), makes the initial deadline feel like an ultimatum, despite
it supposedly holding equal weight as second consideration and rolling ones. Another questionable part of the medical housing procedures is the use of a standardized request form. Section 504 states that requests can be made in any format, including verbally or via email—formats that can be increasingly accessible
"It shouldn’t take me listing legalities in order to receive accommodations." in communicating disability-related needs. While a standardized form surely allows for the ARC to be more organized, its mandated use would be in violation of the law. “The ARC will always make an effort to accommodate specialized requests for alternate ways of submitting information,” the university spokesperson wrote. This point is not commonly known among students, though, considering the university’s established procedures include deadlines and standardized forms. There are also the legally questionable matters of requiring students to disclose and document physical disabilities, requesting documentation to do more than verify a disability and its accompanying need for the requested accommodation, and asking students to accept alternative accommodations that do not meet their needs—something I myself have been asked to do. “The ARC is consistently monitoring its policies and procedures to ensure that they are current, consistent, and accessible. The medical housing process is highly individualized. We want to achieve a fair and consistent process,” the spokesperson added. Regardless of whether or not the university is in compliance with federal laws, it is essential that legality is not confused with accessibility— something that is especially important to Murphy. “Just because you are avoiding a lawsuit, it doesn’t mean that you’re making your disabled students comfortable, happy, or able to access the community,” she said. Perhaps the first step in achieving comfort and happiness is allowing students to apply their housing accommodations to a chosen space. Disabled students deserve to live in a space that is not only accessible, but also fun and comfortable— and they deserve to have more of a say in how all of these components can be integrated into their housing situation. To Murphy, true access relies on the university completely rethinking its understanding of disability. “Once the university understands that disability is bigger than law and bigger than medicine, I think their funding of things like training, their staff choices, their openness to hear critiques from disabled students, is all going to develop in a positive way.” G APRIL 29, 2022
D.C.’s renewed Emancipation Day celebration marks 160th anniversary BY JOANNA LI
housands of spectators gathered at Freedom Plaza on April 16 to celebrate 160 years of emancipation in Washington, D.C. Two years after the pandemic postponed the Emancipation Day’s events, D.C. finally resumed its in-person commemoration of the District’s 3,100 enslaved people emancipated in 1862. Eight months before the federal Emancipation Proclamation, Congress passed the D.C. Emancipation Act, and on April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed it into law. The Act was the only “compensated emancipation” plan in the U.S., through which newly-freed Black individuals could receive up to $100 to aid emigration to other parts of the Americas and Africa. Many newly-freed Black individuals who remained in D.C. became waged workers. “D.C. was the first [U.S.] territory where slaves were freed and compensated, and that is huge,” Angie Gates, director of the Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment who leads D.C. event planning, said in an interview with FOX5. “There was history that was made here in the District of Columbia that we must recognize every year.” Emancipation Day celebrations belong to a larger narrative. On the first anniversary of the D.C. Emancipation Act after the Civil War, the Black community organized a parade to commemorate the bill’s passage and demonstrate Black pride and political strength. Though Jim Crow laws and class divides curtailed celebrations throughout the 20th century, commemorations of the day began anew in 2002 through dedicated lobbying efforts by Black activist Loretta Carter-Hanes. To ensure the date is committed to public memory, D.C. Emancipation Day became an official holiday in 2005 and has since been embraced as an annual D.C. tradition. NuNu Wako, one Washingtonian attending the parade, emphasized the personal importance of celebrating D.C. Emancipation Day. “As a first generation African who understands the impact of slavery, not just on African Americans in the United States, but the actual continent itself and globally, celebrating Emancipation Day is not just about Black people,” Wako told the Voice. “It’s about humanity, and the injustice that has been done to humanity, and the lack of recognition for it, for as long as it went unrecognized,” she added. “So, to be able to celebrate this every year, it’s a reminder that [such injustices] should never occur.” 8
THE GEORGETOWN VOICE
The arduous road to D.C.’s emancipation is inextricable from D.C.’s own history of slavery. After D.C.’s creation in 1790 from land ceded to the federal government by Maryland and Virginia, two slave-holding states, D.C. became a center for the slave trade. Georgetown University’s continued existence is attributable to the sale of over 272 enslaved people, and many of its buildings were built by enslaved laborers and retain slaveholder namesakes. As racial tensions escalated with the Civil War, thousands of Black individuals came to the District to escape enslavement in the South. Voices for the retention of slavery were strong in the capital, but voices of abolitionists demanding emancipation were stronger. The pressure, urgency, and morality surrounding emancipation amplified, and the District made a decisive commitment in passing the 1862 act. As the Anglo-African, a New York-based, Black-owned newspaper recounted, “Henceforth, whatever betide the national, its physical heart is freed from the presence of slavery.” This year, D.C. Emancipation Day returned to the District with celebrations over the course of two days. On April 15, organizers from the African American Civil War Memorial Museum launched the commemorations by reading the names of 3,100 individuals freed by the D.C. Emancipation Act. That night, Westminster Presbyterian Church presented the “Remember the Pearl” event at Southwest Wharf, where 77 enslaved men, women, and children took on a bid for freedom in 1848 in the single largest recorded escape attempt by enslaved people in U.S. history. The Pearl, a schooner operated by captain Edward Sayers, set sail on the Potomac River for the free state of New Jersey with an escape plan created by D.C. abolitionists. D.C. slaveholders recaptured the ship and all escapees at its layover in Point Lookout, Maryland. Most of the escapees were sold into slavery in Southern states. But the legacy of the Pearl Incident lives on. The following day, the Freedom Fest kicked off festivities with an art exhibition by Kristin Haye-Campbell, a descendant of a family captured from the Pearl. The Emancipation Day Parade on Pennsylvania Avenue and concert at Freedom Plaza followed, joined by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, the Emancipation Commission, performers from Eastern High School, and an enthusiastic crowd.
Racial justice in D.C. still has a long way to go. “[The D.C. Compensated Emancipation Act] set the trajectory to end slavery across the United States,” Gates said in an interview with WUSA9. “And we’re still fighting for full democracy with becoming the 51st state." D.C.’s lack of statehood and incomplete enfranchisement is detrimental to Black communities. Over 700,000 tax-paying residents, nearly 45 percent of whom are Black, are denied the right to Congressional voting representation. Mia Young (NHS ’23), program director for the Georgetown chapter of Students for D.C. Statehood, explained measures to suppress the Black vote go back to the Reconstruction Era. “D.C. residents have to abide by laws that they had no say in creating, which is a gross violation of justice and democratic ideals,” she wrote in an email to the Voice. Due to the importance of statehood to D.C.’s Black community, many supporters joined the Emancipation Day celebrations in favor of the cause. “Denying D.C. statehood is a blatant attempt to water down the political power of people of color, particularly Black people,” Young added. “There is no doubt that silencing the voices of D.C. residents is inextricably linked to the legacy of slavery and racial injustice.” Learning about the history of racial injustice in D.C. is only a stepping stone to active advocacy for progress in the District, particularly for out-of-state residents who can engage their own Congressional representatives. “Locally, there are so many opportunities to get involved in grassroots organizing efforts and protests,” Young continued, explaining it is important for white people to understand the racial implications of denied D.C. statehood. On the evening of April 16, D.C. Emancipation Day events concluded with performances from local musicians and a vibrant backdrop of fireworks. “Over the pandemic, nothing was done. And it’s great to see all these people come out [today],” Wako said. “It gives me hope that moving forward, humanity is only going to get better, and not worse. I’m happy to see the diverse group of people that are out here.” G
design by cecilia cassidy
Vote for progressive D.C. challengers on June 21! BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD
.C.’s local elections are coming up, with the Democratic Party primary on June 21. The Voice Editorial Board presents its endorsement slate below. We judged candidates by their stances on issues we care about—housing justice, workers’ rights, and policing practices. The general election is scheduled for November 8. For Mayor, vote Robert White
At-Large Councilmember Robert White’s platform to challenge D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) includes reforming D.C. housing, rethinking public safety, and guaranteeing jobs for District residents. The Voice Editorial Board believes White is the right person for the job. Mayor Bowser’s record on housing is troubling. While her administration’s September $400 million housing investment is admirable, her plans to specifically target homelessness have fallen short. Only onethird of new units from her policies are marked as affordable housing, while existing public housing projects lack the necessary resources for repairs. White has denounced encampment clearing campaigns under Bowser as “inhumane.” He calls for the city to build more affordable housing units and to actually house those experiencing homelessness. Most importantly, White seems enthusiastic about ending D.C.’s debilitating dependence on private land developers for affordable housing. White supports increased funding for proactive violence interruption and alternative emergency response programming, which limit police violence against residents. Moreover, White has called for shifting traffic enforcement, noise complaints, and other civil disturbance responses from police purview to better-trained behavioral health professionals and the D.C. Department of Transportation. Bowser, meanwhile, has called for additional police hiring—a move White correctly criticizes. These commitments, together with White’s plans for a $1.5 billion green jobs guarantee, make White the best choice for uplifting D.C.’s unhoused and lowest-income residents. Mayor Bowser has served for two terms; it’s time for someone new.
Attorney General, vote McDuffie (If Possible)
For D.C. Council Chair, vote Palmer
We endorse Erin Palmer, the progressive candidate, for D.C. Council chair. Palmer is running against incumbent Phil Mendelson, whose ten years of pushing anti-homeless and anti-working class policies have endangered D.C.’s most vulnerable. Despite the deaths of 69 unhoused people in 2021, Mendelson led the charge to block a Council bill in December that would have stopped evictions from encampments during hypothermia season. Moreover, under pressure from the restaurant industry, Mendelson spearheaded the repeal of Initiative 77, undoing a popular measure which eliminated the minimum wage disparity for tipped workers and raised incomes for thousands of D.C. workers, particularly those of color. Palmer, a current Ward 4 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, is running an ambitious campaign that centers D.C.’s most marginalized. Asserting that “housing is a human right,” she has an extensive plan to crack down on housing code violations to protect lowincome, Black, and/or non-English speaking tenants, as well as expand oversight of the Housing Production Trust Fund, from which the city government misused $82 million. She also supports ranked-choice voting, eliminating subminimum wages for tipped workers through Initiative 82, and expanding voting rights. Palmer has been endorsed by the D.C. Working Families Party, and Washington Teacher’s Union, highlighting her candidacy as a potential avenue for vital community-oriented reform.
Our pick for attorney general is current Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie. McDuffie’s recent disqualification from the race, however, may prevent him from appearing on the ballot. If McDuffie’s appeal fails, we endorse Bruce Spiva as a distant second. McDuffie has pursued progressive policies for a decade. He introduced bills to create a reparations task force and ban the use of criminal background checks in housing. His platform includes ensuring access to affordable housing, environmental justice, and workers' rights. He recently received endorsements from three labor unions. McDuffie, however, is not perfect: He voted against a stay on encampment enclosures and he emphasizes increasing “community policing,” which some activists argue does not limit police violence. Still, he remains the most reliable choice. No other candidate is as critical of existing criminal justice practices as McDuffie is—except Bruce Spiva. If McDuffie remains disqualified, we believe Spiva is the best remaining candidate. Spiva’s criminal justice reforms include refusing to prosecute recreational drug cases, expanding mental health units, and avoiding the racist use of truancy laws. But we worry that Spiva’s decision to be the only candidate not participating in D.C.’s Public Financing Program, which prohibits business donations, enables corporate donors to unduly influence Spiva’s policies. The current attorney general, Karl Racine, recently prosecuted various antitrust cases, and we believe an elected attorney general should not have corporate allegiances. Considering that Spiva’s prior law firm served Google and Facebook, their potential donations may limit Spiva’s willingness to litigate against them.
For D.C. Council’s At-Large Seats, vote Williams and Silverman Of the two at-large D.C. Council seats up for grabs this November, one seat is reserved for a candidate not from the currently dominant Democratic party. For her progressive record, especially on labor rights, we endorse progressive incumbent Elissa Silverman. The June Democratic primary will decide which Democrat can run for the other seat. Of those Democrats running, we believe organizer Dexter Williams deserves the spot. Recent cracks in the political presentation of Anita Bonds, the incumbent Councilperson running against Williams, have raised questions about her suitability. In 2020, Bonds voted “no” on legislation that would have funded repairs for public housing, despite having publicly supported the measure. Just this month, she also revealed that she had never heard of D.C.’s infamously long housing voucher waitlist, which has left many residents waiting decades for housing assistance. Williams, on the other hand, has organized to make Washington, D.C. a more fair and equitable city. In addition to helping draft a 2020 bill to restore voting rights for incarcerated individuals, he works at RepresentUs, an anti-corruption and voting justice organization. Though Williams has yet to hold an elected position, he has worked alongside Robert White, our pick for mayor.
layout by alex giorno; photos courtesy of clebarde (cc by-sa 4.0), lorie shaull (cc by-sa 2.0), & reana kovalcik
APRIL 29, 2022
‘The Cookout’ Enshrines Black Joy, Builds Community BY AJANI JONES
aking in the cool fall breeze during a brief moment of introspection at ESCAPE leader training last September, Kwabena SekyereBoateng (COL ’23) was struck by the thought: “What if we had a retreat for Black students?” Excited by the prospect, Sekyere-Boateng brought the idea up to one of the ESCAPE leads, Veronica Williams (COL ’23), who was immediately onboard. Stepping back on campus, they started brainstorming—and the more they talked, the more they wanted to make this retreat a reality. After months of exertion by its four coordinators, the April 9 ‘Cookout’ represented a dream coming to life. Marketed as “a retreat by Black students for Black students,” the Cookout brought together Black Hoyas at the Calcagnini Contemplative Center (CCC) for a weekend away from the turmoil of the Hilltop. Conducted in collaboration with Campus Ministry and in its first year, the inaugural retreat was promoted as an opportunity to reflect on shared experiences and fortify a sense of community among Black students at Georgetown. “[We] decided what was the best way to execute our vision of creating a retreat that was a space for Black joy, hope, and just a space to kind of get away from campus but be in community with other Black people,” Williams said of the retreat’s vision. Appreciating the restorative power of attending retreats, Williams said that the team of coordinators wanted a retreat format for the Cookout to foster a similar space of healing and reflection for their fellow Black Hoyas.
THE GEORGETOWN VOICE
As Sekyere-Boateng and Williams fleshed out their idea, Saleema Ibrahim (SFS ’23) and Annaelle Lafontant (SFS ’23) joined the planning team. The team of four juniors worked tirelessly for months to bring the Cookout to life. In the initial stages, they mulled extensively over a name for the retreat that reflected the ideas of hope and family that they were trying to foster through this experience. “As we were brainstorming, Williams just said ‘The Cookout’ and we immediately knew that was it,” Sekyere-Boateng said, recounting one of the many planning sessions the coordinators had together. “The Cookout is a space for Black people; it fosters community. It’s a space where healing can happen.” He explained that cookouts occupy a significant place in Black culture because of their association with joy and fortifying bonds within a welcome, communal space. The coordinators partnered with Campus Ministry, who facilitated much of the logistical and financial burden of organizing the retreat. Still, the relatively short turnaround time of making the Cookout a reality presented many hurdles. Members of Campus Ministry, like Rev. Ebony Grisom, as well as other external supporters, like Maddie Kling, the ESCAPE coordinator, were extremely helpful in tackling the logistical and bureaucratic boundaries that arose during the planning process, according to Sekyere-Boateng. “There were definitely portions of the planning process where we didn’t know if we were going to be able to proceed, especially because it’s a new event,” Ibrahim said, acknowledging challenges with the venue, COVID-19 concerns, and time
constraints that could have pushed this first staging of the retreat to the fall. Despite the challenges, Williams shared that the coordinators continued to push for their idea to be realized this semester because they knew how much it would mean for the Black community. “We had to advocate for ourselves a lot and just really show that, yes, we do have the capacity to do this, we do have the skills to do this,” Williams said. The team also expressed their gratitude for the overwhelming amount of support they received from students across campus as well. Following an initial announcement in late March, the retreat received overwhelming promotion from Black students across campus, being reposted across several platforms by both students and Black student organizations like BSA and The Blaxa. Ibrahim and her fellow coordinators wanted to get the input of other Black students and organizations to tailor the retreat to their community, and they were met with encouragement. “It just showed that we’re not shouting into a void here, everyone wants the same thing and people are willing to help get you to that goal too,” Ibrahim said. Part of making a space for the community entailed making the event financially accessible. “By making it free, it just removed one of those barriers of getting people to go,” Ibrahim said. In her first year, Ibrahim said events like “Black to School week”—an orientation week sequence of mixers and parties hosted by different parts of Black Georgetown at the beginning of the year—and other community-
design by connor martin; photos courtesy of the office of campus ministry
building opportunities really helped her feel welcomed within a primarily white institution (PWI) like Georgetown. But Black to School week didn’t occur in 2021—perhaps another (temporary) pandemic casualty. Accordingly, Ibrahim believes the Black community at Georgetown does not feel as closely knit now, which she attributed in part to the impact of the pandemic on maintaining social bonds and community, especially across year groups. “All four of us have had a lot of discussions about the state of Black Georgetown in general and how the pandemic itself really fractured the social bonds that I knew my freshman fall,” Ibrahim said. “It created a vacuum where I feel like there weren’t spaces, or community building areas for first-years and other underclassmen to be in community with each other.” The coordinators also hoped that the retreat would serve as an opportunity for bonding between class years lost since the beginning of lockdown in spring 2020. “We want this to be a space that is bridging together gaps, people of different class years, a space for love, a space for community,” Lafontant said. Centering comfort and joy was especially important to the coordinators, though SekyereBoateng acknowledged trauma is difficult to avoid as a subject matter for students at a PWI. “We didn’t want it to be a trauma bonding space, we wanted to stray away from that. We really wanted it to be a joyous space,” SekyereBoateng said. “We wanted to create another space that just allowed for Black people to be in community with each other.” As a space oriented by and specifically for Black students, the Cookout presented a unique opportunity for Black Hoyas to reflect on the myriad experiences Black students have without their Blackness being contrasted against whiteness—something Sekyere-Boateng said can be an unfortunate and common feature of reflective spaces on campus. He explained that other reflective spaces often limit Black Hoyas to thinking about their identities within the context of whiteness, but the retreat would allow them to reflect on their experiences within a shared community. As the day of the retreat finally arrived, the coordinators had some worries about how the first iteration of the Cookout would transpire. “All the things that could go wrong were running through our heads before,” Ibrahim said. She described feeling immediate relief upon arriving at the grounds of the CCC. And, according to Ibrahim, all the coordinators’ worries went out the window as the Cookout successfully took place, far surpassing even their hopes for the retreat. Throughout the retreat, participants were able to strike the perfect balance between introspection and leisure. They engaged in small and large group discussions, some facilitated by guest speakers and Black community leaders, as well as more fun and casual activities like a music and dance session.
For many of the participants, it acted as the perfect opportunity to feel welcomed in a space that presented itself as entirely their own. Olivia Cooley (COL ’23) shared how welcoming the space felt, especially as an opportunity to connect with other Black Hoyas. “It was a very kind and warm space,” Cooley said. “When I do have the opportunity to have a majority Black space, it’s very comforting.” Senoh Koroma (MSB ’25), another attendee, felt a refreshing sense of belonging in opening up about her experiences and building community with other Black Hoyas throughout her time at the retreat. “For the first time in the year that I’ve been here, I actually felt like a Hoya,” Koroma said. She added that the small and large group discussions facilitated throughout the retreat helped foster this welcoming atmosphere that allowed her to feel comfortable in embracing and sharing her identity in its entirety.
“For the first time in the year that I’ve been here, I actually felt like a Hoya.” “I felt a really strong sense of community where I didn’t really have to check how I spoke, check my hair, check the way I was perceived by certain people,” Koroma said. “I could just be comfortable and exist as myself without this gnawing doubt of how other people perceive me.” While the retreat functioned as a reflective space, it also allowed its participants to just have fun. Arielle Benjamin (MSB ’25) shared that she was able to really bond with other participants over music, s’mores, and games at the dance party the coordinators hosted on Saturday night. “Most of these people I hadn’t really met before, but I felt really connected to everyone at that moment,” Benjamin said. Though the Cookout lasted a little over a day, the coordinators attested to many of the bonds that they observed being formed throughout the retreat being maintained on campus now. Retreat participants have a group chat together, and routinely organize impromptu meet-ups amongst themselves like game nights and hangouts on Healy lawn.
One of the participants, Lisette Blackstone (COL ’25), emphasized how effective bond-building beyond the retreat has continued.“I feel like for a lot of events sometimes, you’re there for the events but the relationships don’t really carry on but I feel like with the retreat it’s been really different,” she said. “I feel like I’m actively part of a community.” Blackstone felt that the Cookout helped reaffirm many facets of her Black identity. She further explained that the retreat really helped her to feel unapologetically comfortable in her identity. “I learned that I don’t have to perform for anyone. I’m here, and I am who I am, and it’s okay to just be one hundred percent present as myself,” Blackstone said. Blackstone also spoke about the pressure that comes with navigating a PWI as a Black student. She described many of her fellow Black Hoyas feeling like they had to constantly explain and justify their identities to the non-Black students around them, but the retreat helped them to overcome this pressure. “I realized I don’t owe people an explanation, and if they don’t understand that, they have the same Google that I have,” Blackstone said. “That was really freeing for me because it relieved a lot of the pressure.” Following this first iteration of the retreat, the Cookout coordinators are already looking ahead and envision a future retreat more reminiscent of its name, with more time, and more food. The coordinators also hope this year’s retreat sets a precedent for future Black spaces on campus. As many students continue to express their support for what the first Cookout meant to them, the coordinators felt they had accomplished their primary goal of implementing community and inspiring hope. Even for those unable to attend, the successful staging of the retreat marked a welcome change and opened up the floor for more spaces on campus where they could feel completely welcomed and celebrated. “We really wanted to implement radical hope and I think we did that,” Sekyere-Boateng said. “We deserve spaces where we can just be happy.” While they hope the Cookout will be a longlasting part of the experience of Black students at Georgetown, the coordinators also shared that they were glad they helped in reestablishing and fortifying bonds between the Black community at Georgetown. “Whatever the Cookout might look like in years, even if it just ends, I hope those sentiments that I felt there are still there,” Sekyere-Boateng said. “As long as those things that we were thinking about—and that were brought up there—are still present in the Black community, I’d be happy.” For its organizers and participants, the Cookout marks a new beginning for Black Hoyas: a space for community and where Black joy is no longer a rarity, but a standard part of their experience on the Hilltop. “I want this to become a staple in Black Georgetown,” Ibrahim said. “I want Black joy everywhere on this campus because that’s what we deserve.” G APRIL 29, 2022
Nearly 41 years in, the White House Peace Vigil perseveres BY MARGARET HARTIGAN
n a typical day in Lafayette Square, the park directly across from the White House, a visitor will inevitably come across tourists, commuters, and musicians. In all likelihood, they’ll come across Philipos Melaku-Bello, too. Melaku-Bello and other local activists cooperate to maintain the 24-hour White House Peace Vigil, an anti-war protest site that has protested nearly continuously for 14,930 days (as of publication). Since June 3, 1981, protestors have kept the vigil going through rain and shine (and blizzards and hurricanes). Today, the vigil carries on in the form of a singular black tent surrounded by anti-nuclear war and pro-human rights posters—a display that attracts a global audience. “I think that this is an effective place where we’re sharing our commentary with more of the public,” Melaku-Bello said. “It’s more effective for when you want world peace—not only peace in your county, or peace in your ’hood.” The vigil began in 1981 when William Thomas, an anti-war activist who had traveled the world protesting nuclear proliferation, stationed himself in the park with a sign reading, “Wanted: Wisdom and Honesty.” Other activists soon joined him, including Concepción “Connie” Picciotto, Ellen Benjamin (who later became Ellen Thomas when she married William), and, periodically, Melaku-Bello. At the time, Melaku-Bello, who was born in Brazil, had already lived in Ethiopia, England, South Africa, and in parts of the U.S. He was touring with his band, Anarchistic Youth Brigade, and after several shows were canceled began volunteering his time with Thomas. He’s been protesting ever since. Melaku-Bello’s LinkedIn reflects this involvement— he’s a self-described ‘Professor of Anarchistic and Revolutionary Studies’ at ‘Occupy University’ (a reference to the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement). Through the ’80s and ’90s, the Thomases and Picciotto were primarily responsible for keeping the vigil running. As the older activists’ health began to deteriorate, however, Melaku-Bello picked up the torch and took on a larger role in maintaining it. Following a brief break after William Thomas’ death in 2009, he returned with the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement. Today, the demands of the vigil practically make it a full-time job; Melaku-Bello—who resides in Virginia and works in language 12
THE GEORGETOWN VOICE
interpretation—was at the vigil for most of the day last Saturday, as well as from 7:30 a.m. Sunday until 6 a.m. Monday morning. Melaku-Bello has shifts Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., and longer shifts on the weekend. “But that’s a very short week for me,” he said. In the past, he consistently took on daily, 17-hour shifts. His motivation to endure long, late hours, through violent storms and bitter cold? A love for all humans, regardless of nationality, and a desire to share his message and historical observations with others, he said. “With liberty and justice for all, there has to be liberty and justice for all,” Melaku-Bello said. “You always have to be ready for the revolution. I want peaceful revolution, but not everybody does, so there’s only one solution: education.” While the modest White House Peace Vigil does not command the enormous crowds or participation numbers in the way other large-scale D.C. protests tend to, it reflects a more intimate community of care, activist stamina, and a love for humanity. “I love you,” Melaku-Bello said. “I love the little girl in Bangladesh I’ll never meet. I love the little boy in Botswana I’ll never meet. Human rights violations are a reality on this planet. I want to eradicate them.” Even with the vigil’s message of universal love, the unconventional movement has not been without its challenges. National Park Service Police, D.C. Police, and park rangers regulate demonstrations within the District and have at times harassed or even destroyed portions of the vigil. In 2013, the vigil was briefly taken down, after the person on shift abandoned their post. Members of the Peace Vigil community quickly returned the vigil to its former state. Despite the dangers and challenges associated with maintaining a 24-hour protest site, Melaku-Bello is patient in holding profound conversations about history, ideology, and peace with anyone else who stops by. At times, he offers guests folding chairs or invites them into the tent for discussion. It is the enduring dedication of those within the community of volunteers who keep the protest going. Today, the continuous operation of the vigil requires the efforts of dozens of people— including Ameena ‘Peaceful’ Washington, Luci Murphy, an activist affectionately referred to as ‘Spawn of Satan,’ and many others.
After years of tirelessly protesting in front of the president, the community maintaining the vigil is practically family. “She’s my sister,” Melaku-Bello said of Murphy. While Murphy does not take shifts herself, she has been visiting the vigil since the early ’80s. She often stops by with meals, supplies, and companionship for whoever is on shift. After three decades, she sees the vigil as important and necessary still. The future of the vigil, however, will require a new generation of support, since the younger Occupy activists have left the movement. Melaku-Bello said that he’s “old as dirt” (legally, he’s 60) and most of the other volunteers are also older. After nearly 21 years on the front lines, the need for the drive and energy of younger activists is felt by Melaku-Bello. “We’re all aging activists. We’re waiting for your generation. Your generation’s cool—when there is something [to rally behind],” he said, referring to the well-attended—but short-lived—demonstrations that have taken place in D.C. after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “They’ll come out for the rally, but the rally is an hour and a half.” Michael Beers, who has been supporting the vigil for the last three decades, noted that this dedication will be essential to the future continuation of the protest. “What they really need most are people to stay the nights because technically, we’re not allowed to sleep here. So we’re supposed to stay awake,” he said. While the original protest featured signs almost exclusively about nuclear war, today’s vigil is adorned with Black Lives Matter posters, antideath penalty signs, maps of Palestinian loss of land, flowers, flags, and more. For Beers, the vigil is as essential now as it was the day it began. “This originally started as an antinuclear weapons vigil. The core message of antinukes is still here and I feel that’s very important,” Beers said. “It’s extremely dangerous right now, with Russia and Ukraine. We’ve got to act strongly as citizens of the world to get rid of these things.” The vigil’s power comes from its 24/7 commitment to speaking out for peace—no matter where and when. “The peace vigil is the longest living vigil for peace in a country that is constantly at war,” Murphy said. “It’s a constant reminder to people that visit the White House that we need peace.” G
photos courtesy of margaret hartigan; design by dane tedder
Let’s Talk About Fight Club: GU Club Boxing hosts first showcase since 2019 BY GRAHAM KREWINGHAUS, TIM TAN, AND MICHAEL TANG
tepping into the boxing ring on April 23, Camilla Sigmund (COL ’23) had four goals on her mind: avoid a concussion, keep her footwork strong, breathe slowly, and prevent her opponent from catching a rest during the fight’s three rounds. It worked. Sigmund’s fight against Towson’s Taylor Chaney was a masterclass. Chaney stalked forward, flailing with clumsy thrusts. But her outstretched arms left her exposed—and Sigmund punished the poor habit brutally. Soon Sigmund was stalking forward, weaving, bobbing, and unleashing heavy-bag combinations as Chaney stumbled back. Jab. Jab. Slip-jab. Weave, slip, rip-rip to the body, jab upstairs— the onslaught crested like a wave. The referee’s stoppage in Round 3 was a mercy. On the sunny Saturday afternoon, a crowd of about 150 students and visitors gathered on Healy Lawn for GU Club Boxing’s annual showcase. The event featured students from Georgetown and three nearby schools, George Washington University, Towson University, and the University of Maryland, fighting in a series of eight matches. Three Georgetown students— Sigmund, Marcus Dreux (COL ’22), and Ryan Meehan (COL ’24)—were on the fight card. For an often underpublicized sport, Saturday’s event was a chance for members of the club boxing team to show off their skills for the Georgetown community (as well as visiting GAAP prospective students) and allow viewers to learn more about one of campus’ most exciting club sports. Overall, the afternoon was a striking success for the club and its fighters. For Dreux, Saturday was also a chance to reflect on the impact boxing had on his time at Georgetown. “It meant so much to me my freshman year just to have a space,” he said after his fight, explaining his longterm commitment to boxing. Club Boxing’s goal, he concluded, is to create a space for students to enjoy a high-intensity sport as a break from Georgetown’s academic and social rigors. For Dreux and the other members of the club, the ring provides that space. Club Boxing boasts robust participation. Though there’s no expectation that anyone makes all four meetings the club hosts per week,
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a group of about 60-65 students consistently attend. Each practice entails a combination of jump rope, shadowboxing, mitts and gloves, and sparring sessions. Sigmund, the club’s president, said that the team’s appeal is centered on both the benefits of working out and the one-of-a-kind environment boxing provides. Despite its emphasis on competition, the club is strikingly uncompetitive in its makeup and social life. The sport’s nature also provides an easy way to call out bad behavior in the club. “If you act poorly, then you show up to sparring, and you get hit in the face a lot,” Sigmund said. “You perhaps think, maybe I should change my behavior slightly.” The club’s relaxed atmosphere is also a draw for many students in the midst of Georgetown’s oftentimes competitive club sports scene. “It’s a reprieve for a lot of people from the culture on this campus that’s about status competition, competition for jobs, or GPA, that’s something I’ve heard from a lot of people. But beyond that, I think people are drawn to it because they think it’ll be cool,” Sigmund said. “I mean, you get to punch stuff.” Like so many Georgetown extracurriculars, club boxing struggled during the pandemic, unable to practice in any capacity over the 202021 school year. However, their woes did not stop when they returned to campus. Their prepandemic practice space—Bulldog Alley—was now a classroom. The team faced uncertainty from its lack of permanent space, bouncing through several outdoor spaces before finally getting permission to return to Bulldog Alley in February 2022. Despite these challenges, Club Boxing survived the pandemic and was able to revive the annual showcase event for its seventh iteration on Saturday. On the 23rd, the fights lasted three rounds, two minutes each, and ringside judges scored each round to determine a winner. A fight ended either with a judge’s decision or by knockout. A few minutes after Sigmund’s triumph, Georgetown’s second fighter, Meehan, stepped into the ring in his amateur debut against GW’s Ian McHugh.
These men went to war. There was no pretense of a friendly exhibition here—both fighters swung with everything they had. McHugh came out in a heady rage, and at first, Meehan was blindsided by his aggression, struggling to break out from under a flurry of hooks. At last, he found his rhythm by weaving under a punch, pivoting out, and slamming McHugh with a hook so hard it sent the man stumbling through the ropes. Soon, it was Meehan cracking the hard blows, Meehan pushing the tempo, and Meehan landing his flurries more regularly. All McHugh had for him was the occasional stiff jab and counter cross. By the end of the three rounds, McHugh’s face looked like an impressionist painting. But, controversially, the judges gave it to McHugh, drawing fervent boos from the Georgetown crowd. Two other fights followed before Georgetown’s Dreux stepped into the ring for the climactic finish to the afternoon: his matchup against GW’s 200-pound undefeated fighter, Emmanuel Babalola. Despite a few spurts of success for Babalola early on, Dreux quickly dominated the fight. He was light on his feet, battering Babalola with jabs and long hooks and cruising out of range before his slower-footed opponent could muster a response. Dreux parried and dodged the brunt of Babalola’s efforts with little difficulty. Late in the second, Dreux detonated a fight-ending cross atop Babalola’s right eye, leaving the GW man cringing and stumbling backwards. Dreux poured on an avalanche of fists. The referee stopped the fight and deemed Babalola unfit to continue—his eye had swollen up so he could hardly see. Georgetown’s boxing day ended successfully with two wins and one (highly contested) loss, a fine showing. But perhaps more important was club boxing cementing its presence on campus. “We now have a foundation, which is something we were struggling with in COVID, and today was just the cherry on top of the sundae,” Dreux said after the fight. “I was more focused on making sure we had good people who wanted to keep it going, and I’m really just glad we still have a club.” G APRIL 29, 2022
Brittney Griner has been stuck in Russia for months. Here's what you need to know. BY JO STEPHENS
Content warning: Discussion of homophobia and state violence.
hen WNBA player Brittney Griner touched down in Russia for another season of the Russian Premier League, she had no idea she’d soon be caught up in U.S.-Russian relations. Griner—one of the top female basketball players in the U.S.—now faces up to a decade in Russian prison after authorities accused her of possessing hashish oil, a marijuana concentrate commonly found in vape cartridges. Griner has denied these charges. The situation is incredibly complicated both due to political tensions between Russia and the U.S., and the fact that Griner is a queer, Black, American woman at the mercy of an openly hostile, anti-gay world power. Russia’s long history of persecuting queer people makes Griner’s status especially precarious. However, the circumstances that led to Griner’s presence in Russia are equally complicated—and equally important. She plays there in order to make up for the middling income she receives as a professional player in the United States; as such, Griner’s imprisonment has sparked a new wave of questions about the way female professional athletes are treated in this country, in terms of both pay and respect. Griner is not just famous for her recent arrest—she has long been a world class athlete. Born and raised in Houston, the basketball standout built her career at Baylor University under head coach Kim Mulkey. At 6’9”, she was quickly recognized across the world of women’s basketball as one of the most dangerous post players in the game. In 2010, she set the alltime single season record for blocked shots as a freshman and became the seventh player in the history of women’s college basketball to dunk in a game. Her career continued along this same trajectory; as a junior, she led her team to a National Championship over Notre Dame, dominating the league the entire season and
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finishing a perfect (and unprecedented) 40-0. She also individually blocked more shots than any other team in Division I women’s basketball that season. Griner was the first overall pick in the WNBA draft, selected by the Phoenix Mercury, and landed a championship with the team the next year. Since then, they have consistently been one of the better teams in the league, making it to the semifinals four of the last seven years. Here’s where the Russia part comes in: In addition to playing in the United States, she also plays with UMMC Ekaterinburg, a Russian team, during the WNBA offseason. She has been a part of their roster since 2015, and has won four EuroLeague championships with the team, as well as the last seven Russian Championships in a row. Until this year, when Griner was arrested at a Russian airport, her presence in the country had not caused any reported problems. But Griner’s significance to her fans goes beyond her talent as a basketball player. In addition to her impressive career, Griner has used her visibility to make a name for herself in the realm of social justice. In 2020, she walked off the court before numerous games with some of her teammates during the national anthem to protest police brutality against Black individuals. Despite criticism, in an interview with OutSports, Griner doubled down on her actions. “I honestly feel like we should not play the national anthem during our season. I think we should take that much of a stand,” she said. As a politicized figure, however, Griner’s most notable strides have been in terms of her sexuality. In a 2013 Sports Illustrated interview, she publicly came out as a lesbian (though she had been out to family and friends since high school). “People tell me I’m going to break the barrier and trailblaze. I just kind of look at it like, I’m just trying to help out, I’m just trying to make it where it’s not as tough for the next generation,” she said in an interview with People Magazine. Since then, Griner has appeared on the cover of “The Taboo Issue” of ESPN Magazine and modeled menswear for Nike. She is currently married to Cherelle Watson. Though she has never reported facing issues in Russia due to her sexuality, Griner’s status as an openly queer woman opens distressing implications for her detainment in Russia. Russia has not been particularly kind to American celebrities who have made visible statements supporting queer people or are visibly queer themselves. For example, both Madonna
and Lady Gaga have faced fines and legal action for expressing support for members of the LGBTQ+ community while performing in Russia. This hostile legal precedence makes the visibility of Griner’s identity as a queer woman a threat to her safety. The Russian queer community and their allies have also faced physical violence as well, most notably since the brutal murder
of a gay man in 2013. The State Department has offered a warning for LGBTQ+ travelers from the United States, writing in an April 2022 advisory, “Discrimination based on sexual orientation is widespread in Russia. Acts of violence and harassment targeting LGBTI individuals occur. Government officials have made derogatory comments about LGBTI persons and violence against the LGBTI community has increased.” Although Brittney Griner has likely been afforded some degree of protection due to her status as a highly visible American athlete, her situation
illustration by ryan samway; layout by graham krewinghaus
is now more tenuous. There is no denying that even if her sexuality had nothing to do with her initial arrest—and there is no real way to prove that—it puts her in a very dangerous position while she is in custody. Her sexuality puts her in direct opposition with the values of the Russian government, which means that her safety while under their jurisdiction is far from assured.
Historically, prisoners in Russia have been treated extremely poorly. There have been reports of prisoners being tortured, denied medical care, and subjected to incredibly harsh and exacting rules that put extreme psychological pressure on prisoners. Though Russian prisons are not precisely the work camps of the past, they bear too many similarities to ignore. Were Griner to end up imprisoned in one of these places, her
status as an American would likely make her life much harder than it would be otherwise. Additionally, with the U.S. and Russia currently sitting on opposite sides of the situation in Ukraine, Griner’s status as a rather prominent, well-known American could put her in danger of being used as a political bargaining chip in the Russia-Ukraine war. Lastly, there are implications that go far beyond Griner to reflect on the WNBA as a whole. The question of why Griner plays there in the offseason has been percolating amongst some, and the answer is an unsurprising one: money. Due to the salary cap currently operating in the league, the current maximum base salary of a WNBA player is $228,094—not a small number, by any means, but also not what would typically be considered a “proper” salary for a professional athlete. The bare minimum salary for an NBA player, for example, is $925,000. Women’s basketball players overseas also typically make significantly more money than their American counterparts, which is one of the reasons why so many U.S. players spend their offseasons there. There are other ways that players can make money outside of the WNBA—Griner’s partnership with Nike is an example— but many players make up for their lower salaries by playing with foreign leagues. Griner’s presence in Russia shone a light on the gender inequities in women’s basketball and have forced the WNBA to grapple with uncomfortable questions in her absence. After all, Griner’s presence in Russia was primarily due to the less-than-stellar pay in the WNBA. If Griner had simply been paid better to begin with, she might never have been in Russia at all. There is currently no certainty on Griner’s status or security. As of right now, her detention has been extended to May 19. After that, there are a couple directions this could go—but all come with potential risks to her safety and freedom. She is likely to remain in Russian detention for quite some time. She could go through Russia’s official judicial process, but would face a system that is stacked against her. Once a democracy, Russia now leans more in the direction of an autocracy or even a full dictatorship, depending on the historian or expert consulted. Thus, there is no guarantee that the legal system will treat her fairly in the slightest, and she could very well face extralegal imprisonment for a crime that she did not actually commit. In this scenario, if Putin and the Russian government decide to
make an example of Griner, they very well could do so while operating under the guise of Griner’s participation in what they claim is a fair and just legal system. If the U.S. government advocates on her behalf, however, she might be used as a pawn in wider U.S.-Russian relations. President Biden and the State Department say that they are working on getting her released, but given the current relationship between these two countries involved, it is unlikely that the U.S. would be willing to enter serious negotiations with the intention of giving Russia what they demand. On the flip side, Putin could very easily turn the tables on the U.S. and use Griner as a political prisoner of his own, threatening her health and well-being if the U.S. does not give him what he asks for. With the war in Ukraine still going on, taking this route could be quite dangerous for Griner as well. Jason Rezaian, a columnist for The Washington Post who was imprisoned in Iran for over a year, gave an excellent breakdown of the different ways the situation could proceed. “The best case scenario is that sometime in the coming days the charges are dropped, and she comes home,” he said in an interview for PBS NewsHour. “I think it’s possible, but I don’t think that that’s likely at all.” Essentially, nobody knows what is going to happen next, but it is unlikely to be kind to Griner, given her status as a queer Black woman. In an interview with Politico, Russian law expert Peter Maggs summed it up best: “Russians are great chess players. The more pawns you have, the greater your chance of eventual victory. And since things are not going their way, obviously, in Ukraine, any pawns they have they want to hold on to.” Right now, Griner is stuck playing a game that goes far beyond herself—and how it ends for her is still very much up in the air. G
APRIL 29, 2022
After years of activism, student advocates reflect on exhaustion BY FRANZISKA WILD
Content warning: This article references sexual assault and police brutality. ile Blass (COL ’22) is, by her own words, tired and ready to graduate. It’s hard to describe the entirety of Blass’ long standing community involvement: She is the current president of the Black Students Association (BSA); former president of GUSA; one of the founding members of the Black Survivors Coalition (BSC); and a leader in the movement for slavery accountability and reparations on campus, known colloquially as GU272 (and now HASA). “Really tired,” she said. After two years of constant stressors due to a global pandemic, everyone is tired. For the activists on campus, who organize for increased student resources and university accountability, exhaustion is pervasive. While the pandemic has taken its toll on everyone, the extent that Georgetown’s student leaders are overburdened seems disproportionately heavy. A handful of invested students seem to shoulder a great deal of the responsibility relative to the community at large, often with little institutional support. “I don’t think all of this work needs to be in the hands of the people who are affected
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by these issues. I think one thing Georgetown really lacks is allyship,” Rowlie Flores (COL ’22) said. Flores has been involved with GUSA for the past four years, most recently as vice speaker of the senate, advocating for students and coordinating with administrators, many of which are no longer at Georgetown. He pointed out that student efforts have only been complicated by high rates of staff turnover and a majority white student body that rarely actively seeks out opportunities to support BIPOC organizers. “We need people who are actually willing to put down themselves with us, as equals, and even maybe as more than equals willing to put in the work,” Kayla Edwards Friedland (COL ‘22), a central organizer in the BSC, said. “That is their responsibility.” Blass agreed, pointing out that most oncampus allyship exists within different BIPOC communities. “There's a lack of engagement when things don't directly impact you,” she said. “Oftentimes, the allyship is cross-sectional between marginalized communities.” And despite the tireless work of marginalized student activists, so much moved backward over the past two years. The pandemic compromised the institutional memory and relational connection of many organizing networks on campus. Now, the work of activists risks losing its continuity. “What do organizers do when there is no community to work with? How do you organize in an environment where their community dies, fragmented, broken?” Rimpal Kaur Bajwa (COL ’22) asked, reflecting on lost momentum after the pandemic. Kaur Bajwa helped found the Georgetown Sikh Students Association and serves as the activism committee co-leader for Hoyas for Immigrant Rights. After four years being involved in immigrant rights spaces, she’s exhausted, and feels like no one is talking about it. “No one talks about how draining it can be,” she said. “Activism is hard in just normal times. And then on top with a pandemic, it becomes that much harder.” Community organizing draws heavily on emotional labor. At its core, the work involves nudging those with privilege to care enough to institute policies that better the material circumstances of the most marginalized. At Georgetown, this usually manifests in confronting administrators as well as white, wealthy students in ways that place already vulnerable people in dangerous and burdensome positions.
Movements like the BSC, which staged a Healy Hall sit-in in February 2020 to demand greater institutional support for sexual assault survivors, particularly Black students, had some success bridging the divide between affected students and the administration, who often completely disregard organizer demands, as well as with white students, who can be oblivious to issues. The hire of more Black clinicians of color, expanded SafeRide hours, funding for SAPE student employees, and increased funding for off-campus mental health marked a significant step in the right direction as a direct result of Black student activism. But February 2020 was also the last month the whole student body would be on campus until fall 2021. Blass has seen how these successes come at a cost, “I think there was a lot of triumph in those spaces. I think there was a lot of community, but it's just exhausting,” she said. According to Friedland, the gap of time since students were last organizing in person has been detrimental to the momentum of specific movements. The physical distance from campus has also distanced organizers and the students they were able to engage from the work. “The overall thing that's been lost over the past few years is a real connection to particular efforts on campus,” Friedland said. “It's just been a lot of distance. Distance kind of fosters complicity.” Friedland helped found BSC upon arriving at Georgetown and organized more broadly in D.C. after the murder of George Floyd and the protests that followed in 2020. Organizing work on our campus already relies on a few individuals, meaning the burden of its emotional labor continually falls to a small group of people—most of whom are engaged in this work out of sheer survival. “When I started organizing with all these things, is because there was an immediate, honestly, survival need that was not being met. And I wanted to do that,” Eric Pérez (COL ’23) said. Perez helped push for the Disability Cultural Center and has been involved with BSC, GU272, and GUSA throughout their time at Georgetown, among other efforts. Still, even efforts surrounding critical needs can feel unsustainable. “Even if it is my own survival need that I'm fighting to address, is the advocacy worth it? It's grinding me into the ground like this every day,” they said. According to Siena Hohne (COL ’22), former vice president of GU Pride, the pandemic not only disrupted the kinds of organizing connections that could be formed but also prevented students from getting involved with organizing to begin with.
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“You can reach out to as many people as you want saying, ‘run for X board,’ but you can’t change the material circumstances of their lives that prevent them from having the time or energy to do that,” Hohne said. “A lot of us upperclassmen have been in survival mode. Beyond even organizing, we've just been focused on ‘how do we get through college.’” Victoria Boatwright (COL ’22), who has been heavily involved with climate organizing, founding the Georgetown Renewable Energy and Environmental Network (GREEN), and pushing the university to divest from fossil fuels as a part of GU Fossil Free (GUFF), notes that even in groups like GREEN and GUFF, which don’t have hierarchical structures, certain students become overburdened. She agrees that much of what has been lost is the ability to pass down knowledge, responsibility, and membership to a new, widespread generation of campus organizers. “For some initiatives, it's been momentum,” Boatwright said. According to her, GREEN struggled with mentorship and leadership during the pandemic; however, since returning to campus, engagement has bounced back. She does see glimmers of hope. “As somebody who's leaving and looking back and was worried during COVID of will we be able to get back on our feet,” Boatwright said, “I can definitely see that we're walking, and we're starting to jog and to run again.” “I think that I'm really excited to see that other people have that spark in them,” she added. But even if student engagement begins to tick up again, the relationship between student organizers and administrators, many have noted, has deteriorated. “We lost a lot of admin that really supported students,” Flores said, explaining that students are dependent on the administration as the ultimate arbiter of resources. “A lot of activism has to come not only from student efforts, but trying to build that relationship with admin.” According to Friedland, lack of administrative support or even interest in dialoguing with student organizers is a key difficulty of campus organizing, and the
pandemic’s pressures on the institution, too, have made it harder to move initiatives. “Administration more than ever is just buckled in tight to the rut of what they have going because they are so terrified of the insurmountable changes that have come to the university,” Friedland said. Pérez takes a similarly cynical view, suggesting that administrators benefit from the challenges student efforts face in maintaining momentum due to a college education’s four-year nature. “If you wait out any student long enough, they’ll leave or graduate,” Pérez said. Furthermore, the burden shouldn’t be wholly on students, Hohne argues.
“No one talks about how draining it can be.” “It can't just be on students. This is always an issue that, you know, we're only here for four years, and I think the institution of Georgetown needs to step up,” Hohne added. She feels passionately that the “adults” at Georgetown should feel just as responsible as student organizers do for meeting the material needs of marginalized students. “I think the adults involved with the CMEA, the LGBTQ Resource Center, and the Women’s Center and such, they also need to be really involved in student outreach,” Hohne said. And the work is made exponentially more difficult when the university is actively combatting its students’ message. Lauryn Ping (COL ’23), organizing director for H*yas for Choice, sees this through Georgetown’s active support of antiabortion programming. “Knowing that the administration has such anti-abortion views and knowing that you go to an institution that supports that is a little devaluing for you as a person, I think the weight of that is really heavy. Especially year after year getting shut down,” Ping said. H*yas for Choice is not supported or recognized by the university and lacks access to certain resources that other student organizations enjoy. Fighting to keep demoralization at bay is complicated by a sense of marginal gains in the face of seemingly insurmountable needs. The lack of true progress on issues like GU272 and the demands made by BSC on behalf of the administration, despite tireless continued efforts from students, contributes to the exhaustion felt by organizers even after they graduate.
“I personally still feel like there was so much more to do,” Friedland said. “It's just so tiring to see the same dynamics play out and the same imbalances of power and lack of resources.” “Part of the tiredness of this work is actually just mostly feeling you’re never doing enough,” Friedland said. “It’s like there’s never anything you can do to actually get to the real goal, which is liberating us. All we can do is take these little baby steps, and oftentimes these baby steps feel like miles.” Friedland still believes there is a clear path forward for organizing on Georgetown’s campus. “It's important to remember that movements come in cycles; movements aren’t things that can be created or destroyed,” they said. And even with the current burnout organizers face, there has been a new kind of momentum spurred by the influx of new classes beneficial for many movements, according to Pérez. “The energy has been very electric, has been very bold, confrontational, uncompromising in a way that has yielded a lot of really, really positive results for a lot of us and across communities,” they said. While a clear path forward for campus organizing must exist, according to student leaders, it needs to look different than how it does right now. “We need to move away from the Superman/Superwoman model of organizing,” Blass added. Part of building a more sustainable activist community also requires an institutional structure that can support people beyond the current classes of students. “You just need to be able to make an infrastructure that can be passed down well enough,” Boatwright said. “It might not be like a perfect building with all the right types of screws and everything. But if it's a house, it’s a house, and somebody can live in it and make it better.” Part of the solution also requires recognizing that these activists, and many more, are students first. Their constant advocacy and energy expended for the benefit of the community can take away opportunities for their own wellbeing. “We need to figure out how to organize each other; and also hold space for each other outside of just being organizers,” Friedland said. According to them, centering rest and joy is a critical part of keeping organizers enthusiastic and movements afloat. It is worth fundamentally questioning the need for student activism—students are at Georgetown to learn first and foremost. However, until Georgetown does enough for its most vulnerable, organizers will continue to exist and make campus better. “The work is literally always going to be here until all of these systems are fucking abolished,” Friedland said. “And more than anything, we deserve to be fucking happy. We deserve to experience real and true joy.” G
APRIL 29, 2022
Rx shows ROLE MODEL revived in a whirl of passion, devotion, and vibrant sensation BY EMMA CHUCK
ake way: A new ROLE MODEL has emerged. Tucker Pillsbury has left behind the moody, hazy atmosphere of his self-released EP ARIZONA IN THE SUMMER (2017). He has charged beyond the rush of his popular 2020 single “blind,” which embraced blooming attraction to a now-partner (fans have long sensed his connection to a particular coffee-loving public personality—Emma Chamberlain, for those out of the loop). On Rx (2022), his 11-track debut album, Pillsbury testifies to his regeneration, kindled by introspection and new romance. Rx surges forth in a journey from struggle and vulnerability toward a place just as open and honest, but cushioned by love. Pillsbury’s sassy exuberance and commitment to experimentation fuse smoothly with artful production from his sole collaborator Spencer Stewart. Rx is a cohesive work with minor hiccups; the album creates intimacy with its unguarded attitude and energizes with its delightful vigor. It’s more than worth the dose of a listen or two. The opening track, “die for my bitch,” might lead one to expect an anthem of brash ferocity, but soft piano introduces Pillsbury’s gritty voice professing devotion. As drums build in steady determination, Pillsbury becomes invulnerable by “only dyin’ if I die for my bitch.” Slower in tempo and lush, the song is a fitting start to Rx as it lauds romantic commitment with a hint of sauciness: “I’m only cryin’ when she’s bitin’ my lip.” “masturbation song” and “stripclub music” are even more eye-catching. Pillsbury, known for his puckish persona (his promotional billboards read “THE NEW ROLE MODEL ALBUM IS SO HORNY”), doesn’t shy away from raciness—to different effects. “I touch myself / More than I should be / I think of you,” he shares, voice low on “masturbation song.” Blatantly lustful, the song subverts a traditional love song to channel what might be a taboo topic in a sex-negative society into an ode. In contrast to its explicit details, the song’s sonic atmosphere is, simply, beautiful. Strings quiver alongside a plodding guitar and forlorn choir. “masturbation song” tries to destigmatize selfpleasure through images of picturesque longing. Still, a confusing taste lingers. The literalness of “stripclub music” might cause a chuckle, but it’s on this track that Pillsbury’s acute storytelling shines. Instead of
THE GEORGETOWN VOICE
a song catering to a stripclub patron, the lens is on a dancer. “Now she’s in control when she’s on the pole / Makes a man understand why he’s sitting below,” he sings atop a plucking (then fiercely twanging) guitar and twinkling synth. A rewind effect generates an especially cinematic soundscape (featuring a Euphoria-like introductory cry), illuminating a woman subject to the whims of people other than herself. Several tracks feel less overtly impactful but still tug you back with every listen, proving that Rx consistently has more around the corner— side effects, if you will. Find yourself humming the chorus of “can you say the same,” even if the verses tend to blend together. “Neverletyougo” has an off-kilter cycle between rapped verses and distorted chorus vocals but a few clever lyrics. The song and its accompanying music video became the subjects of mild teasing online, but jokes about “respectfully, I think about you sexually” cause the lyric to echo post-listen. “life is funny” feels vague in theme but makes an eccentric statement. A jaunty guitar and piano—almost like a teasing children’s tune—work satisfactorily. Claps and carefree “la”s generate refreshing irony against jaded observations about masculinity and friendship, along with inventive religious depictions. This track hides behind an unsuspecting title and placement near the album’s end, but its jingling tune shouldn’t be overlooked. Rx does more than flirt with attraction and ruminate on past romance; it worships renewal through love. Listeners can revel in its upbeat songs that trust romance despite past hesitation. The sweet, cautious “who hurt you” navigates uncertainty to settle in the refuge between lovers. The track begins with a punchy drumbeat and the endlessly catchy lyric, “dancing to a little four on the floor.” Pillsbury finds reciprocal emotional intimacy and yearning for healing, especially in a triumphant bridge and probing choral harmony that genuinely wants to know: “Who hurt you?” The consistent presence of a content Pillsbury is the most delightful part of Rx. The record’s most commercially successful track, “forever&more,” is a good example. Its groovy guitar, blissful percussion, and fun whoops intermingle with sweet reminiscing (“by the end of the summer, she was a lover”) and tantalizing confessions (“I put her on her back
and I tell her she’s mine”). Melt into this ballad of love and lust. In “if jesus saves, she’s my type,” Pillsbury brings the throughline of religious devotion to the forefront; he celebrates hope in a playful, unsuspectingly catchy track. Pillsbury enters the song after a muffled one-two-three thump to sing the song’s title and then declare, “kiss her face, fuck all night.” Though the track houses wonderfully bold verses, the chorus’s catchy melody teeters on a less inventive refrain: “If she’s real / She’d wear heels.” Every other element, however, redeems the song. Production is a supporting star: A frisky synthesizer and excited drums bolster Pillsbury’s lovestruck croon. ROLE MODEL knows authenticity. Even better, he conveys it well. The album’s titular single, also its concluding track, is a strippeddown thesis for the entire work. Only a guitar and light piano accompany Pillsbury’s earnest confessions and acceptance of the present: “I don’t need therapy / Just someone who’s there for me / ‘Cause that’s all that really matters anymore.” An angelic group of Pillsburys hum in agreement. Pillsbury’s first-ever full-length album is one worthy of praise. His burgeoning success has brought better and brighter music from the star, in which he experiments with booming beats, soothing harmonies, and personal revelations. Still, of course, he stays true to the ROLE MODEL persona, ever a work in progress. In the end, listeners will find that Rx remedies listlessness, insecurity, and regrets. As Pillsbury shares in his music, he’s been through the same, having felt loneliness and a lack of connection until now. In the outro of “rx,” Pillsbury seems prepared to launch into another iteration of the chorus but then doesn’t. He tweaks prior yearning into an address of prolonged gratitude: most plainly to his lover, but also possibly to his present happiness and his loyal listeners, who have been waiting a good while for his official debut. “You’re all that really matters anymore,” he says. G Voice’s Choices: “forever&more,” “who hurt you,” “rx”
graphic by sean ye; layout by connor martin; photo courtesy of daniel prakopcyk
10 songs to take you back 10 years, because music peaked in 2012 BY JOHN WOOLLEY
riends, Zoomers, countrymen. Lend me your ears. The year is 2022. Us 2000s kids have been in the game for a little while now—and that means we have accrued wisdom. Taste. Cultural acumen and artistic sensibility. Like all generations, we approach a moment of unprecedented clarity in our lives. As the bildungsroman’s final pages turn, we tap the universal lesson, gifted to us by our forefathers: Music was better in the good old days. Specifically the good old days when we were impressionable young teens. Before then, music was bad. Since, it’s just not made the same. This is clearly true. No, I won’t be fielding objections at this time. You read the headline. You kept reading. You’re looking for some 2012 bops. Let’s get on with the list.
Me Maybe” - Carly Rae Jepsen 1. “Call Listen, there was no other place to begin. Carly Rae Jepsen’s breakout
pop hit was inescapable. There were flash mobs, retrospectively tacky parodies, and viral lip-sync videos by everyone from Bieber to Cookie Monster to the U.S. Marine Corps. Internet virality still felt weird (and less manufactured) at the time, so most responded by shrugging their shoulders and jumping in on the trend. And that’s without even mentioning the actual song. Let me tell you, this bubblegum pop goes hard.
You Worry Child” - Swedish city” - Kendrick Lamar, 8. “Don’t House Mafia, feat. John Martin 5. “m.A.A.d feat. MC Eiht Don’t you worry—Calvin Harris Really, the whole of Kendrick Lamar’s major label debut deserves to be here. Good kid, m.A.A.d city (2012) is an intricate narration of Lamar’s youth in Compton, but the record’s title track takes that concept and layers it atop an absolutely unforgettable two-part instrumental by Sounwave and Terrace Martin. The solo after Lamar’s final verse is one of the year’s best musical moments, and in a year as packed as 2012, that’s saying something.
That I Used To Know” - Gotye, feat. Kimbra - Maroon 5 2. “Somebody 6. “Daylight” When you hear that xylophone tap, you Yes, Maroon 5. Perhaps the furthest possible point know something special is about to play. Gotye really dropped the number one single on the Billboard Hot 100, earned three Grammys, and followed it up with a “buh-bye.” He didn’t leave music, of course, but he retired the Gotye stage name to pursue other interests—namely, his own record label and band, The Basics. The guy never even enabled ads on his music video. You know, the one with 1.8 billion views. Clearly, he’s the G.O.A.T.(ye).
from the previous entry. I know, Adam Levine is kind of a walking bread loaf. But hear me out. Back when my folks actually purchased music for 99 cents on the iTunes store, when I had no personal preferences and just latched onto whatever our shared iPod library offered, this was right near the top. Is it the best song? No. Was “Payphone” or “One More Night” better? Arguably. My point is, though, that sometimes it's the mediocre stuff—the songs you forgot you knew—that really bring you back.
Are Young” - fun., feat. Janelle Monáe Found Love” - Rihanna, feat. 7. “We 3. “We Before Jack Antonoff was off rocking our worlds co-writing Calvin Harris with every pop girl in the book, he was but a third of the indie rock band we all wish we still had. Consider the following: “We Are Young” has one of the catchiest, most beautifully straightforward drumlines in 21st-century pop to date. With Nate Ruess and Janelle Monáe’s bright vocals, plus an equally colorful piano, it's no wonder the group’s breakout single still holds up a decade later. The song is like a lover waiting for you, just across the bar.
- Lorde 4. “Royals” Glitz-and-glamor 2000s club music was becoming dated by
the 2010s, and the public craved a different kind of buzz. Enter the Kiwi queen: Lorde. (I’m cheating a little because the single didn’t chart until 2013, but really, how could I not?) Its stripped back instrumentation and leisurely pace might have been rare for the charts at the time, but the song’s DNA is all over modern alt-pop. Besides, the track technically featured on her independent debut The Love Club EP (2012), so I’ll claim it for 2012 on a technicality.
layout by alex giorno; graphic by leon cheung
I know I said Lorde brought 2010s pop into its moodier phase, but the industry wasn’t quite there yet. My evidence: this absolute banger. It was one of the year’s many Calvin Harris chart climbers (see “Feel So Close,” “Sweet Nothing,” and “I Need Your Love” for nostalgia blasts), but Rihanna’s vocal performance lifts this track above the rest featured on Harris’ album 18 Months (2012). She cuts through sirens and synth beats with ease. The track is cacophonic, but in the best way possible. And yes, it was technically late 2011; I am playing fast and loose with the rules. Time didn’t exist when we were kids, so let me have my fun.
isn’t the only house music on this list. This Swedish supergroup’s ampedyet-constrained style plays well with John Martin’s wistful delivery. The whole song is like a fading memory, if that memory were backdropped by a relentlessly overdriven synth beat. If you’re feeling extra, try taking on the almost seven-minute pre-radio edit; or, better yet, listen to their new 2022 album Paradise Lost, since the group apparently reunited just in time for the single's 10th anniversary. Just goes to show, even these stars are trying to relive the 2012 glory days.
Talks” - Neon Trees 9. “Everybody Ahem.
IT STARTED WITH A WHISPER! AND THAT WAS WHEN I KISSED HER! AND THEN SHE MADE MY LIPS HURT! I COULD HEAR THE CHIT CHAT! TAKE ME TO YOUR LOVE SHACK! MAMA’S ALWAYS GOTTA BACK TRACK! WHEN EVERYBODY TALKS BAAAACK! WOOOO!
Style” 10.“Gangnam (강남스타일)- PSY
We opened with a viral sensation, and we’ll end with one too. PSY wasn’t the first K-pop crossover in America by any means, but it was certainly the biggest for its time. It was so big, in fact, that it forced Billboard to catch up and begin incorporating YouTube metrics into their rankings: “Gangnam Style” was the first video on the site to accumulate 1 billion views. It's goofy, undeniably catchy, and perfect for parody. And yes, I know you tried the dance. I did it too. We all did. APRIL 29, 2022