In an interview with campus media last week, President John DeGioia discussed Georgetown’s response to the November arrest of Derrik Sweeney (COL ’13) in Cairo for allegedly throwing Molotov cocktails at security forces.
Before reflecting on the broader dynamics of the situation, DeGioia made clear his position on student involvement in political activities and protests while studying abroad:
No it’s unnecessary, and it’s not permitted. There are very clear instructions for our students studying abroad as to what’s permissible behavior for guests in the country at the time.
DeGioia also praised the Office of International Programs for its performance while Sweeney was detained:
Our Office of International Programs performed in a heroic way during that weekend, because it was a very very tough period. That was roughly Thanksgiving period, and that was a very tough time. Kathy Bellows [Executive Director of OIP] was extraordinary in her dedication and commitment to addressing the concerns of our student who was being detained in Cairo, and I think she did an extraordinary job.
While Sweeney immediately returned to the United States following his release, Georgetown’s other students at the American University in Cairo completed their fall semester abroad. As Georgetown considered whether to send students for spring semester, DeGioia says AUC, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and the State Department all encouraged the University to allow students to go.
Concerning the spring semester, DeGioia struck a tone of measured confidence:
We have three students scheduled to study at American University in Cairo this spring, and we’re going to permit that. 69 other American universities will be sending students to Cairo so we feel comfortable at this point having our students there. As you know last year we spent about 15, we made a decision at the end of January to bring them out, and we did. We feel the circumstances on the ground there would not warrant restraining our students from studying there this year.
Photo: Tim Markatos