Welcome back. We’ve been apart for a while.
Loss defined much of last year—loss of opportunities, loved ones, and time. Trauma, unevenly distributed and ongoing, sits with much of our community. We at the Voice won’t pretend we can restore what COVID-19 took away, but we can offer a few hopes we have for the year to come.
Our first task is to be generous to each other. Approach each other with grace and understanding, and take the time to help one another wherever the opportunity should arise.
To all students that have never truly experienced campus life—freshmen, sophomores, and transfers— welcome, and congratulations! You are finally here, and you belong. There may be moments when you doubt whether you fit—that’s normal. Imposter syndrome is a natural response to what is often an exclusive and overly- competitive environment, but remember that you hold power and can triumph over those barriers.
To all those incoming, do not let hierarchies dominate the social scene. Lingering notions of popularity carried over from high school should not matter here. Be good to each other, and surround yourself with people you can learn from. You have so much time to wonder and challenge your preconceived notions.
Most importantly, care for yourself. The last year has made us all more acutely aware of our limited time. Go out and do the things you love, but remember to rest as well. Don’t try to do everything; experiment and find those endeavors which bring you joy, but never forget that stretching yourself too thin will not bring as much satisfaction as it initially appears. Choose your passions, and don’t hesitate to take some time for yourself.
To upperclassmen, you are coming back with newfound power. It is incumbent upon you to cultivate a culture at Georgetown that is genuinely inclusive—you set the standards for your organizations and the tone for what Georgetown should be. We face a new responsibility to make this university stronger, kinder, more equitable, and more self-reflective than when we left.
Nostalgia is sure to pull us back towards pre-COVID practices, but make sure to use this time to interrogate the spaces you inhabit. If you find yourself staring at a picture of exclusivity and stasis, change it. Be bold and confront the missteps of whatever institution you partake in—a club, a team, a tradition. How do its prerequisites limit inclusivity? What about its application requirements? Its financial constraints? You’re in charge now, and if you don’t critique those old structures, then you’re allowing an enormous opportunity to slip away.
It is also up to upperclassmen to pass on our history. Georgetown University is deeply flawed, historically and presently. The school was built on land stolen from the Nacotchtank and Piscataway tribal nations, and its Jesuit identity inextricably links it with the Catholic genocide and forced education of Indigenous peoples. Furthermore, Georgetown only exists because it sold at least 272 enslaved Black people in 1838 to remain financially stable. In a 2019 student referendum with record turnout, 66 percent of students voted to establish a reparations fund sourced from a tuition contribution for the descendants of the GU272—yet the university has failed to follow through. No campus memorial exists to remember either Indigenous tribes or the GU272, and many monuments to enslavement remain intact. As students who benefit from those atrocities, we have a responsibility to their descendants to keep that fight alive.
These are crucial interpersonal efforts, but do not forget about our responsibility towards community health. The pandemic has not ended, and to avoid another shutdown, we need to stay vigilant and protect one another. Wear your mask indoors, and so long as the university provides them freely, test yourself often to mitigate undetected community spread. Your decisions will shape the fall semester.
Our return to campus demands that we take up the responsibility of stewarding its community. Wherever the fall takes us—whatever new opportunities we discover and loved ones we meet for the very first time—it is up to us to change Georgetown for the better. Now and always, make good on the time we have together by shaping our community into a more loving one.
The Voice Editorial Board