Last weekend, demonstrators filled airports across the U.S. to protest President Donald Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order banning refugees, immigrants, and non-citizens from select Middle Eastern countries from entering the U.S. On Sunday, outside the White House, protesters chanted “No Ban, No Wall,” in disagreement with both this ban and the proposed border wall with Mexico. These protests came a week after over 2 million people participated in a global outbreak of women’s marches to show their dissatisfaction with the new administration.
As students at Georgetown, we have front row seats to these consequential political changes. Demonstrations, whether at the White House, the Capitol Building, or Dulles International, have dominated the news this week, and will continue to do so in the future. We students are in a unique position, one that not only allows us to watch history happen, but to participate in it.
This editorial board believes that the concerned students of Georgetown must go beyond passive expressions of indignation toward an activism that is truly active. It is essential that those members of the student body who are physically able show up to protests and make clear where they stand, decrying with their actions and with loud voices what they find unacceptable.
There is, of course, more than just marches and rallies. Real change requires sustainability, and our actions should not end after one particular protest or with one particular issue. A faded protest sign tucked under one’s bed as a souvenir cannot be the only evidence of political action. Guides written by former Congressional staffers instructing citizens how best to reach their members of Congress have proliferated online, and local organizations where students can contribute to fight for racial justice, gender equality, and the protection of Muslims and immigrants abound. There are seasoned organizers who know how best to effectively target and pressure politicians, and students can bring their enthusiasm and numbers to bear by channeling their energy into existing organizations and campaigns.
As students, we have the time to give to political movements and the institutional means to make our voices heard. Georgetown prides itself on the wide variety of skills its students have. There are those among us who speak languages like Arabic and Farsi, who understand foreign policy, who write well, who strategize around government or business, and who know how to organize their friends for a common cause. These are all useful and necessary. The challenges we face require passion, intelligence, and a willingness to work hard. That is exactly Georgetown students offer.
Those of us who are not directly impacted by new federal policies cannot wait until we fear for our own civil liberties. If you are not a Muslim, an immigrant, a refugee, or a member of another targeted group, and feel you are safe now, you should use that safety to advocate for others. Our rights are connected to those of our fellow citizens, so showing solidarity with issues beyond your most deeply personal ones is essential. In the coming months, a number of progressive issues will come under attack, and this will need to be met with a broad, popular front of resistance from people from a number of movements.
We often hypothetically insert ourselves into consequential moments of history by asking, “If I were there, what would I have done?” This is one such moment. Many of us hope that we would have spoken out against the Chinese Exclusion Act, lobbied Congress to overturn the internment of Japanese-Americans, or marched for the civil rights of Black Americans. Our challenges are no longer hypothetical, and we no longer have to imagine what life would be like in these consequential times. At Georgetown, we have a unique collection of talents and passions located a few bus stops from the centers of American power. Many students are sad, angry, or terrified about what is now happening in our political system. We need to act, and continue to work until we have seen the change we desire.To do anything less would be a waste of our opportunities as students here and a dereliction of our duties as Americans.