Welcome to Georgetown.
Here at the Voice, we have a yearly tradition of writing a letter to incoming students. In the past, we wrote of the need to “be flawed and weird” and that the values that we strive to achieve here at the university “mean nothing if we do not bring them to life.” These words still ring true.
This year, we’d like to remind you all that ours is a small section of the city, tucked away and easily isolated. So as you familiarize yourself with your new home here on campus, remember that your time at Georgetown does not have to be limited by the front gates, M Street, or even the National Mall.
There’s a whole city out there that you are now a part of. So act like it; envision yourself as a part of the D.C. community. When you want to get around the city, ride the Metro. When you open up the Washington Post, don’t forget that there’s local coverage too. While you’re at it, check out City Paper. It can be easy to fall into the “Georgetown Bubble,” only leaving the neighborhood for tourist destinations or internships in Dupont Circle or on the Hill. Strive to push yourself beyond this bubble and to explore and understand the city you now call home. You’ll be glad you did.
No doubt, you’ll also find some problems. In D.C. public housing, residents face dehumanizing and intolerable conditions. Our city is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis, and gentrification and rising rents are causing more and more District residents to leave the city or face homelessness. Right now, there are 6,000 homeless students in D.C. Public Schools.
Part of really becoming a member of the D.C. community means accepting that these problems are our problems. Many of you have probably come to Georgetown with the expectation of changing the world and our country. There’s nothing wrong with this, since we all know they both need changing, but think about the local level too. We live in a city full of famous NGOs and think tanks that are part of a world in which Georgetown students are eager to immerse themselves. But the city is full of long-time activists and residents who are working hard to make D.C. a safer and more equitable place for all of the city’s residents. Learn from them.
You may not be able to imagine it now, but your time here at Georgetown will go by faster than you think. For some of you, post-grad life will mean continuing to live in D.C., hopefully furthering the connection you built with the city as an undergrad. For others, graduation will mark the last time you spend as a permanent resident here in the District. Regardless, don’t spend your time here simply as a launching pad for the next step in your career. Challenge yourself to think, and go, beyond our gates and neighborhood. We’ll all be better off if you do.
The first few weeks of college can be a lot, and meeting new people is perhaps the most daunting task of them all. As you get to know your fellow Hoyas on your floor, in your classes, and in your clubs, remember that you just made 600,000 new neighbors. Get to know them, too.