SFS Dean Joel Hellman and Debra Tice, mother of journalist Austin Tice (SFS ’02), spoke at the opening of a week-long exhibition of the journalist’s photographs in the ICC Galleria on April 23. The exhibition showcases images captured before Tice’s August 13, 2012 abduction in Syria and will be on display through April 30.
Tice graduated from the SFS in 2002 and completed two years at the Georgetown University Law Center before leaving prior to his final year to report on the civil war in Syria. He also served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps on deployments after his first semester of law school in 2005 and again as a reservist in 2011.
Tice worked as a freelance reporter, contributing to McClatchy News, CBS, and The Washington Post until his capture near the Syrian capital of Damascus. The identity of his captors and his current whereabouts remain unknown, however the FBI believes that he is alive, as evidenced by a $1 million reward for his recovery that was announced this week.
Hellman spoke on the founding of the SFS as a reaction to World War I and the peaceful values of the school that Tice exemplified: “If you think about what Austin has done, is doing, will do, Austin is the perfect student of our school and our values,” he said. “It’s clear what motivates and drives him are those values.”
Debra Tice said that she hopes viewers will get behind the camera lens with her son. “Thinking about this question that comes up: ‘Why was he in Syria?’ He did have two deployments into warzones in Iraq and Afghanistan so he really knew in a way that wasn’t from the news what urban warfare looks like. He knows personally what a victim of collateral damage looks like,” she said, pointing to one of Tice’s images: a scarred boy, injured in a massacre of 32 people.
Tice’s mother highlighted the array of emotion captured by the images, ranging from looks of exaltation at peaceful village protests to solemn looks at a graveyard. “I just feel Austin’s heart wanting to say, ‘Let’s not go there. Look at these people, look at this place. Can’t we just skip the part where people die?’” she said.
Ari Goldstein (COL ‘18), has been involved with the Free Austin Tice campaign on Georgetown’s campus since the issue was brought up in his journalism class. “Our informal student group planned a protest at the White House, a letter-writing campaign to members of Congress, a social media campaign, a GUSA resolution, and a petition to the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs signed by 1,000 members of the Georgetown community,” he said.
Goldstein thanked the SFS Dean’s Office for funding the exhibit, the Journalism Department, and the Office of Federal Relations for their assistance in bringing the gallery to campus.
Of the recent FBI reward for Tice’s return, Goldstein said, ”This is another really positive step by the U.S. government towards securing Austin’s release, and it seems to be contributing to renewed attention to Austin’s story by the press. I hope and pray with all my heart that it’s effective.”
Hellman concluded the gallery’s opening with his hope for Tice’s safe return and the importance of remembering his work: “We’re looking forward to welcoming him back and the best way to welcome him back, of course, is to keep the causes that he held dear as open, as public, as loud as we possibly can,” he said.