Hoyas United for Free Speech continues to gain student support
Hoyas United for Free Speech, the student-led coalition committed to preserving safe space and promoting expression on Georgetown’s campus, has experienced an influx of support over the past few weeks since its formation.
On Oct. 5, the group created a petition addressed to Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson. In the letter, HUFS cites the removal of H*yas for Choice from the front gates in September as one of many violations of free speech on campus. According to H*yas for Choice Vice President and one of the founding HUFS members Vincent DeLaurentis (SFS ’17), the petition currently has 250 signatures, and that number is growing.
Although the coalition attempts to connect with sympathic faculty members to help promote the cause, it has remained an undergraduate initiative. “The movement has been totally student led up to this point,” DeLaurentis said in an interview with Vox. “While we have received support from faculty members, students created the petition and have been doing all of the outreach and organizing around the petition.”
HUFS member Ida Dhanuka (SFS ’17) explained that some of the major demands in the petition include improved accessibility for disabled members of the campus community and freer campus discourse that is inclusive to all Georgetown students. “Ideally, we would like to see a Georgetown that does not limit public speech and expression based on arbitrary rules, such as those that classify folding tables as permanent structures,” she said.
The petition also calls for the immediate expansion of free speech zones and tabling areas around Healy Cricle, recruitment of diverse speakers representing multiple racial, sexual, and ideological identities, and development of academic courses that focus on underrepresented identities.
HUFS aims to table in Red Square on select days and have group members engage with fellow students on a personal level. “We hope to reach Hoyas through the extracurriculars they are involved in, since our points affect all clubs’ ability to table and demonstrate on campus,” Dhanuka said. “Freer speech and discourse on campus is an issue that benefits everyone, even if they may not feel like the issue affects them.”
As of now, current student groups that have signed onto the petition include H*yas for Choice, Georgetown University Fossil Free, and Georgetown Solidarity Committee, along with smaller groups that are not recognized by the University.
“I hope that through this petition and the wider HUFS movement that Georgetown students will be able to respectfully express their opinions without fear of administrative suppression,” DeLaurentis said. “As a modern university, Georgetown owes this to its students.”
Photo: Hoyas United for Free Speech via Facebook