GU Pride held a press conference/rally in Red Square this afternoon demanding that the administration commit to opening and funding an LGTBQ Resource Center and instituting mandatory LGBTQ diversity training for students, faculty and staff. Pride wants to see these commitments by November 9—the two-month anniversary of a recent anti-gay hate crime—and if the University won’t take steps, Pride says it will “escalate” its protests until they see results.
The Red Square event came in the wake of University President Jack DeGioia’s decision not to attend Pride’s public forum about the hate crime, which resulted in the event’s cancellation.
“Jack needs to prove to us he is the ally he says he is,” one Pride spokesperson said.
After their brief statement, approximately twenty members of Pride marched on the Healy building, intending to deliver DeGioia 1000 more signatures on their petition and a Coming Out t-shirt to sport if he ever decides to publicly support them. The chanting throng—“Our Georgetown is Better Than This/This Silence is Ridiculous”—gathered a few students in its wake, and was trailed by a news crew from CBS 9, myself, a Hoya reporter and a monitor from the Office of Communications.
At Healy, under the watchful eyes of administrators including Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson and Vice President for Public Affairs Dan Porterfield, they tried to race DPS officers for the doors but were quickly blocked from entering the building after a desultory struggle. Darryl Harrison, the Director of Public Safety, told me that the officers (about ten, all told) were present only because of a “high-level event” scheduled to begin later. But given the who’s who of Georgetown administrators present, as well as Darryl’s own appearance on the scene, it’s not a far reach to speculate that they may have been expecting Pride’s march.
After a few minutes of loitering and chanting—“Come Out, Jack!”—DeGioia’s Chief of Staff, Erik Smulson, came down the front stairs, looking a bit sheepish, and threaded his way between a line of five DPS officers to collect Pride’s presents and promise that DeGioia would hear their concerns.
Needless to say, Pride wasn’t pleased with their reception, or rather, lack thereof. The protesters, who noted in their statement that they have several thousand signatures on their petition and the endorsement of six faculty departments, said they were prepared to continue their protests if their deadline isn’t met.
“Pride his hopeful that President DeGioia will turn words into actions by November 9,” Jack Mahoney (SFS ’08) said.
Neither Olson nor University Spokesperson Julie Green Bataille had much to offer in the way of comment, but both promised further dialogue with students.
— Tim Fernholz, Editor in Chief