Student activists announce sit-in in President DeGioia’s office, call for name change to Mulledy Hall

Student activists announce sit-in in President DeGioia’s office, call for name change to Mulledy Hall

By:
11/12/2015

Georgetown students announced at a solidarity demonstration on Thursday, Nov. 12 that they are to begin a sit-in outside University President John DeGioia’s office on Friday morning to continue until administrators change the name of Mulledy Hall.

Several hundred students, faculty, and administrators attended the event, which was organized to call attention to racial disparities and discrimination at Georgetown as well as to send a message of support to activists across the country, including at University of Missouri and Yale University. The event, which was organized on Facebook, was hosted by Crystal Walker (SFS ‘16), Candace Milner (MSB ‘16), Queen Adesuyi (COL ‘16), Ayo Aruleba (COL ‘17), and Stephanie Estevez (COL ‘16).

The sit-in is to continue during the president’s business hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until administrators change the name of Mulledy Hall, named for a former university president who sold 272 slaves to Louisiana in 1838 in order to raise money to pay off university debts.

Milner read off a list of demands from what she called a “working document,” which includes renaming McSherry Hall and the John Main Center, in addition to Mulledy Hall, installing plaques on unmarked graves of slaves on campus, the implementation of an annual program to mark slavery’s legacy at Georgetown, revision of campus tours to include information about the roles of black people in Georgetown’s history, mandatory training for professors on identity and diversity, and the creation of an “endowment to recruit black identifying professors.” The endowment should be “equivalent to the Net Present Value of the profit generated from the transaction in which 272 people were sold into bondage,” according to a document circulated by the Black Leadership Forum.

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Students at the demonstration of solidarity in Red Square. PHOTO: Elizabeth Teitz

“We’ve been dialoguing enough. We are the university of dialogue,” said Walker who spoke at the event and sits on the Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation. “We want tangible change.”

The organizers also called for structural and cultural change on campus that reflects greater diversity and active progress.

“The culture doesn’t prioritize the needs of people of color,” said Antwan Robinson (COL ‘16). “You have to watch your backs on campus. It’s not always safe.” He spoke of feeling uncomfortable on campus due to a climate of racial intolerance and ongoing micro-aggressions, and urged students to speak up about the injustice they witnessed.

Administrators, including Dr. Todd Olson, vice president for Student Affairs, also attended the event.

“It’s very valuable to listen to our students tonight,” he said. “We are committed to continuing to engage with our students and make changes on our campus.”

After the event ended and participants dispersed, some lingered in Red Square, while Father Raymond Kemp, special assistant to the president and an adjunct professor in the Theology Department, walked through the square with one fist held in the air.

“This is solidarity, this is what I teach. It’s straight out of Papal doctrine,” he said. “This is exactly Catholic social teaching at its very best.”

This story will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.

Correction: An error with regards to Antwan Robinson’s class year has been corrected. Robinson is in the College Class of 2016, not the College Class of 2017. In addition, an error with regards to the rally’s date has been corrected.

In addition, a sentence summarizing Robinson’s remarks at the rally has been updated due to a misquoting of Robinson’s statement. The sentence previously read, “He spoke of feeling uncomfortable at times walking on campus at night due to a climate of racial intolerance, and urged students to speak up about the injustice they witnessed.”

About Author

Elizabeth Teitz Liz Teitz is a former News Editor of The Georgetown Voice. She is a senior in the Georgetown College.


51 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Student activists announce sit-in in President DeGioia’s office, call for name change to Mulledy Hall”

  1. Perhaps they should be informed that setting aside money specifically to hire black professors is also discrimination.

    • HoyaSupporter says:

      Would you like for someone to take the time to explain to you why that is inaccurate?

    • moridiane says:

      A bias specifically designed to redress four centuries of humiliating treatment cannot be discriminatory. Discrimination is reprehensible when it is purposely designed to refrain a group from exercising its God-given right to aspire to that which others are encouraged to seek.

  2. PCprincipal says:

    https://m.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/1dp3cb/how_much_did_slaves_in_america_cost_in_todays/

    About a $3,000,000 endowment… Completely reasonable – other safe space activists should take a page from the gtown book!

    • knh says:

      Except you also have to take into account nearly 200 years of interest, which gets you to about $30 billion total. Not at all feasible.

  3. Alum12 says:

    Many/most of these seem like rather reasonable suggestions. But is a sit-in and list of demands really necessary? It seems like DeGoia has been proactively looking to change Mulledy hall anyway with the working group, and I think a lot of these other idea could be accomplished through normal channels. Do protests and sit-ins need to be the first tool we reach for?

  4. J says:

    Should the Native Americans also stage a sit-in and demand an endowment to recruit Native American identifying professors? America did almost wipe out the Native American’s and their culture. I guess their numbers are too negligible for it to matter… Loud majority always trumps silent minority.

    • Andre says:

      Shut ya hoe ass up dummy i bet u white pussy hiding behind a email dick head u ignorant mother f****r ur type is one of the reasons hidden racism is still going on don’t use the Native Americans as ur ally way to express your racist ass they did what they were suppose to do if u don’t stand for nothing u fall for anything b a man or woman and state how u really feel about the situation…You support it!!!

      • Anon says:

        Shut up whitey. Trying to act black to draw attention to your ignant ass.

    • Truth…everyone is equal!

  5. C says:

    …it’s Nov. 12, not Oct. 12. Dear G-d, is it that difficult to get things correct? You’re in college, not preschool.

  6. Andi says:

    Dear Georgetown Students,
    I don’t mean to undermine the issues at hand, undeniably racial tensions and inequalities are approaching 1960s status, but I am curious. Before the issues at Mizzou brought to light racial inequalities in institutions of higher education, how many of you were affected by or even cared about the issue? This is an issue that has existed all this year, years before, and unfortunately probably years to come. Again, not trying to undermine the issue at hand. In fact, if recent events have moved you to consternation, I’m glad, but coming up with a list of demands, standing in Red Square, and sitting outside the President’s office isn’t going to make a difference. President DeGioia and Georgetown as a whole does not need good ideas and great intentions, Georgetown needs a student (and one is all it takes) to ask, “What do I need to do to get markers on the unmarked graves of slaves?” or “what do I need to do to start an endowment that supports cultural studies?” Demanding change is a lot easier than actually engaging in implementing change. Georgetown is one of the top institutions of higher education in the US and a Jesuit institution that prides itself in educating students to be men and women for others, and as such how is it that Georgetown is not the leading institution in solving theses problems? Why are all of Georgetown’s efforts to resolve these problems reactionary and not proactive? Georgetown students, I challenge you to take a moment, think about an issue at Georgetown that could really use improvement regardless of its effect on you whether it is racial equality or campus, accessibility of campus to students, or one of hundreds of other issues that could be improved upon, and shoot an administrator an email and ask what you can do to implement a solution. There are hundreds of faculty and staff members at Georgetown who are anxious to enable students towards implementing solutions if they only ask. I am positive admin has heard many of your great ideas before, but take it a step further, be men and women for others, and make the change you envision a reality. Commit to more than just standing in Red Square for an hour or signing a petition.

    • Anon says:

      Does it matter when they did it or the fact that they have done it. It’s actually irrelevant.

    • HoyaSupporter says:

      Some of this has been in the works for a while. The students were discussing how they should respond and what the response should be. It predates the news from Mizzou

    • Fred says:

      You don’t happen to be white, do you?

      • Arab Americans are racially profiled and endure far more racism than any African American in this country period Fred. You live a very privileged life as far as anyone is concerned.

  7. Gtown Alum & HIstorian says:

    Some of the “demands” make sense, but some are a little ridiculous, such as the revision of campus tours. I’m also tired of so-called microagressions. People need to stop being so sensitive. For those unfamiliar with microagressions, from one of the NYT articles on Missouri, a black student said that three white friends talking about their families’ houseboats was a microagression.

    And while what President Mulledy did was wrong (especially by today’s standards), these students wouldn’t even be on campus if it wasn’t for Mulledy. Georgetown’s debts in the 1830s were pretty steep and the college almost closed multiple times.

    • Really tho says:

      He did the right thing by using human body’s as profit to further his own means and we are all the better for it

      • Nunyuh says:

        Oh the irony. He/she poopoos microagressions, and then insinuates that the end (2015 Georgetown) justifies the means (selling human beings.) Unbelievable. “There wouldn’t even be a campus…” There shouldn’t BE a campus! Nobody SHOULD be on campus because the darn school should have closed in lieu of selling human beings to raise funding.

        • Chad says:

          And Planned Parenthood should have closed in lieu of selling human body parts to raise funding.
          PS: Good luck finding any human that passes the purity test required by the infantile, coddled students and their insulated, faculty supporters.

    • Nunyuh says:

      “There wouldn’t even be a campus…” is the epitome of a microagression. Suggesting that black students should just be grateful for ‘their’ campus funded on the backs and lives of their ancestors is offensive, ludicrous, asinine–the epitome of insensitivity and a testament to how detached from moral reality the author really is. “Stop being so sensitive.” Stop being so dense.

      • This is also for Fred and Nunyuh, Arab Americans endure far more profiling, targeting, and racism than African Americans. Sorry, hate to tell you this but the entire world caters to people like you by comparison. Stop fabricating all sort of nonsense as a way to seek attention. Arab Americans have it way harder than you do.

        Sorry but that’s the truth.

        • Chad says:

          Christians and Jews are the most persecuted groups globally. In the US, blacks are the victims of over 50% of race based hate crime, and Jews are the victims of 76% of religious based hate crimes. Hate crimes against Arabs clock and/or Muslims come in at about 2% of the hate crimes. (all of this data is from the FBI website)
          White males are the target du jour on college campuses. Apparently they are raping women at a rate not seen in the civilized for hundreds of years.

    • Fred says:

      Thanks for your evaluation of our protest movement, obviously white person.

      • Chad says:

        Is skin color a requisite for having an opinion or making an observation?

    • Eesti says:

      Thank you for your comment! Additionally, according to President DeGioia email from August of 25 of this year, all Mulledy did as he authorized the sale. Those slaves belonged to Jesuit Society of Maryland. Do they still exist? Let’s close them. And also let’s re-name Monticello to something like Hemingcello, because Thomas Jefferson had slaves, and Washington DC to maybe Chocolate City, because George Washington had slaves too. Shortly, you can’t judge history by nowadays’ standards, period. If you do it, you are complete, ignorant idiot (not you, Gtown Alum & Historian). I would advice to everyone to read about Russian revolution of 1917. You want it here? Go ahead, do it, and maybe 100 hundred years and 60 mln dead people later this country will be great again.

      • Mike says:

        Thank you. While we’re at it we should just burn all things pre 1863, because slavery was involved in some way. Hell lets throw in a new constitution and bill of rights too, because Hancock and Madison had slaves, you know, like basically all other rich people in the 17 and early 1800s. Obviously now, looking back yes it was wrong and thats why thats in our fairly distant past now. Its too easy to say “oh thats just the way things were back then”, but it literally was.. I’m not trying to justify aspects of our past, but thats a huge part of how our country was run and how it was able to keep running. From what I can gather from the article it seems like the Georgetown president back in the day engaged in a completely legal, commonplace transaction for the time. The school needed money to stay open, as president its his job to make sure it does. What was he supposed to do? “Ah shit, massive debt is gonna close this great school and end its rich history. Oh well, I wouldn’t want to make anyone in the year 2015 upset by making a decision, I’ll just abandon every student and faculty member by letting it go under.” That deal was made 177 years ago… The U.S was 62 years old at the time.. kids had grandparents that could tell you stories about back in their day when there were no such things as “states”, we’re talking about people that were alive before Lewis and Clark explored into the West. Being concerned about the welfare of a source of labor was not high up on the agenda list for a relatively new country, things like building railroads and establishing a lasting infrastructure where probably a little higher up. Building and sustaining a country that would soon rise to a world super power took precedence over how individuals were treated, regardless of race, gender or ethnicity, so that we could all reap the benefits at a future point, also regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity. White, black, hispanic, asian, doesn’t matter, everyone on an individual level would rather live in 2015 America rather than building blocks America. How great our founding fathers must feel, that a huge point of concern for thousands across the country right now is such a petty thing like what we’re naming buildings.

  8. Nunyuh says:

    “There wouldn’t even be a campus…” is the epitome of a microagression. Suggesting that black students should just be grateful for ‘their’ campus funded on the backs and lives of their ancestors is offensive, ludicrous, asinine–the epitome of insensitivity and a testament to how detached from moral reality the author really is. “Stop being so sensitive.” Stop being so dense.

  9. Shin Jen says:

    So many of these protestors seem blind to all aspects of social justice that don’t directly concern them. If you’re all such great advocates of social justice, direct your energy towards something that actually has tangible benefits. We live in one of the most uneqaul cities in America and there are so many better ways to make a positive difference than this nothing protest.

  10. Student says:

    Slavery is despicable and racism is unfortunately still present. (This is the part you will ignore as you criticize the rest of this post. I am not turning a blind eye or belittling it.) Our attitudes have changed since the seventeenth century, and critics ignore the fact that as historians we must situate events in their historical context and compare apples to apples.

    Many people back then held slaves – even George Washington – and unlike today, society had not arrived at the point to say as a collective that it is wrong. In short, Mulledy was no worse than any of his contemporaries, and that’s what matters.

    Georgetown is not honoring racism by keeping the name of Mulledy Hall. Georgetown is not honoring slave holding or the subjugation of minorities by keeping the name of McSherry Hall. And Georgetown is not oppressing ANYONE. Any people who make that connection are caught in an infinite loop of confirmation bias. (Please respond to this.) Instead, we honor his contributions to Georgetown, without which it is very possible that our campus today wouldn’t exist. To whoever said “the darn campus should have closed”: how ironic you are saying this. Whatever your racial background, be appreciative of the fact that you are at one of the best places of opportunity on the planet, that you have your whole life ahead of you.

    Well reported article.

  11. Georgetown by way of management is and always will be, historically sleazy. While I support the name change, I also support the removal of ‘Blue and Gray’ as the idea supports the wearing of colors which represent unity with southern confederacy. DeGioia is a cryptic tricoteuse for any matter of social contract, or improvement of, and with students such as the moron who left this crap “Whatever your racial background, be appreciative of the fact that you are at one of the best places of opportunity on the planet, that you have your whole life ahead of you.”, I see the problem. That student wrote in acrolect, in mesolect he or she would have said some crass nonsense. The problem is Georgetown has never opened their doors to minorities who matter, and the so called Jesuit community has no backbone apart from religiosity and speechifying the soul’s lonely trip in the wilderness. Georgetown sold more local slaves than they are willing to matriculate local DC Public School students, presently speaking. The present is just as important as the past so why not ball up a fist for kids who your colleagues ban outright or … just not go out and recruit? Let’s see those stats again: 272 slaves sold under a white president for Georgetown in the 1800’s, versus one DC public student under DeGioia. DeGioia is the racist and he should be ousted immediately. Georgetown students have a protest? When South Africa was under fire for ideas of Apartheid, we, protesters went to the embassy and had a drum protest. My advice is gather the the three hundred protesters and head to the Vatican embassy and percussion protest until a real answer is given. DeGioia is a sellout and salaried as a pig, not a meek Jesuit, just a bloated meretricious fraud who refuses to meet with students. Students should ask for his resignation and students should ask to cap all Georgetown salaries at no more than 100,000 a year [NCAA coaching salaries included]. Names matter, school colors matter, but also the modernity and normalcy of minority students who as Washingtonians are banned from attending and living in dorms with their non-Washingtonian privileged counterparts. Fight for those kids because people such as DeGioia and JTIII never do, otherwise, the fight is selfishly won for the category of Georgetown students and not really anyone else. http://www.georgetowntourguides.com … Tremendous pride goes into Georgetown’s “Blue & Gray”, and the site is quoted as stating, “Aggressively Hospitable Since 1789.”, which translates with historical precision into “Aggressively selling slaves since 1789.”. Thank the students for protesting, they should just continue with their work because they’re not studying around any honest institution of higher learning, but one of cryptic and historical embarrassment. Any questions? srv8@georgetown.edu

  12. Debra says:

    If the logic is followed according to some posts here, the entire U.S. should be “closed” since it was established by appropriating a place already occupied by native peoples. While some may think that is a reasonable option, I think most posting here might not.

    Historical context is critical; are we going to expunge all vestiges of the past because people of previous centuries were not as “enlightened” as we?

    And before the piling on begins, I don’t disagree with the overall understanding here, but I do think that some logic is a tad weak.

    • Student says:

      Thank you. Exactly what I was called ‘ungrateful’ for saying above.

  13. Publius says:

    Student Demand No. 5: “Endowment of the recruitment of Black identifying professors equivalent to the Net Present Value of the profit generated from the transaction in which 272 people were sold into bondage.”

    Really? The benefits of reparations should go to Georgetown itself and a bunch of privileged academics?

    If the protesting students really cared about reparation and justice, they would demand that the reparations go to the descendants of the 272 slaves who were the true victims here. Just FYI, the descendants of the Jesuit Slaves are well-organized, well-known, and meet in Louisiana on a regular basis.

    Perhaps their college-age children should be offered full scholarships to Georgetown. Under the legacy program. Their ancestors didn’t attend Georgetown. Their ancestors were OWNED by Georgetown. Georgetown is literally in their blood. (How’s THAT for giving meaning to a Development Office slogan like “For Generations to Come.”)

    But of course, this would only work if the protesting students really care about reparation and justice to real victims. Maybe they’re just in this for themselves. Let’s wait and see.

  14. Alumnus 14 says:

    So maybe we should change the name of the city which our fine school is located in, too, considering President Washington owned slaves. This is absurd. Glad I graduated already to get away from this ever expanding college culture.

  15. Rocket Scientist says:

    Actually many Institutions of higher learning were founded with profits earned from slavery. That is one of the reasons as a form of reparations African American should not have to pay college tuition.

  16. Stephen Grant C 80 M 84 says:

    Anyone else get the feeling that we have fallen down a rabbit hole? I apologize in advance to anyone who construes my comment as a microagression. (P.S. my spell check doesn’t accept microaggresion as a word…the ultimate in microagressions. Let’s burn Bill Gates at the stake. Oh, wait…many Protestants were burned at the stake by Catholics…therefore all Protestants should get free tuition at any Catholic university…but wait, many Catholics were beheaded by Protestants so they should get free tuition at……….what was I saying about rabbit holes?)

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