Concerned alumni write letter to DeGioia about H*yas for Choice incident

232 Georgetown alumni sent a strongly-worded letter today to the office of University President John DeGioia (COL ’79) about the wrongful removal of H*yas for Choice from the sidewalk near the front gates by GUPD last week.

Erin Matson (COL ’02), a former vice president at the National Organization for Women and a current author at RH Reality Check organized the letter.

“We the undersigned 232 Georgetown University alumni are writing to express our dismay and strong concern regarding the September 22 removal by campus police of a small and peaceful group of students representing H*yas for Choice from a public sidewalk just outside the front gates,” the alumni wrote.

H*yas for Choice was tabling there in protest of Georgetown’s giving an honorary degree to Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington. The entire incident was similar to another GUPD removal of H*yas for Choice that occurred last January.

GUPD has since recognized its error. “One of our officers mistakenly asked students to move,” GUPD Chief Jay Gruber wrote in an email to the Voice last week. “It was a miscommunication. I have apologized to the students.”

“These issues matter,” the alumni wrote. “They are both moral and practical. This is an age of social change and political polarization on matters pertaining to sexuality and human rights on a national scale, as well as an international scale.”

“Georgetown has long played a leadership role in policy debates as the premier institution of higher learning in our nation’s capital. It can no longer be that and do so if only one view may be stated.”

The letter also points out that last year’s memorandum of understanding on free speech at Georgetown seems to have accomplished nothing at all when H*yas for Choice is still being removed from spaces on or around campus.

“In May of this year the university revised its speech and expression policy to designate speech zones on campus,” they wrote. “While this effort may have been designed to give clarity as to where H*yas for Choice and other unsponsored student groups may express their views, recent events demonstrate that has not been achieved. The designation of free speech zones in itself serves to segregate and stigmatize certain speakers. We also take concern with the most recent removal of speech from a public sidewalk in Washington, D.C.”

Photo: Abby Grace/H*yas for Choice

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