President DeGioia calls for Gaza ceasefire

April 10, 2024

Design by Deborah Han

Georgetown President John J. DeGioia called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza in an April 1 email to students and faculty. The message, which also called for the release of hostages and greater access to humanitarian aid in Gaza, echoed an Easter Message by Pope Francis and a letter from Father Arturo Sosa, S.J., the Superior General of the Society of Jesus.

“This is a moment that demands we look for these other choices,” DeGioia wrote, referring to Father Sosa’s letter, which urged for peace over violence. “In the Middle East, it begins with access to humanitarian aid, the return of the hostages, and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.”

On Oct. 7, Hamas militants attacked Israel and killed nearly 1,200 people and took another 240 people hostage. Israel’s subsequent invasion and bombardment of Gaza has killed over 33,000 Palestinians and displaced nearly 1.7 million more in what the U.N’s International Court of Justice has deemed as plausibly violating the Genocide Convention.   

DeGioia is the second president of a top 30 U.S. undergraduate university to call for a ceasefire, after President Rev. John I. Jenkins of the University of Notre Dame issued a statement on Feb.9. President Michael S. Roth of Wesleyan University also called for a ceasefire in a March 12 message

Since Oct. 7, college campuses have become sites of debate and protest. Most recently, at Georgetown, hundreds of students protested a panel with members of the Israel Defense Forces held on Feb. 27 by the Georgetown Israel Alliance and Jewish Life, a branch of Campus Ministry. Georgetown Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and other student and faculty groups have previously demanded for university administration to call for a ceasefire via protests, which have included walkouts, rallies and sign demonstrations

DeGioia has issued two other community messages on the ongoing situation in Israel and Gaza. On Oct. 8, he issued a statement expressing sorrow for the Israelis who were killed by Hamas militants in the Oct. 7 attack. After administrators met with students with personal connections to Palestine and family that has been killed in Gaza, DeGioia released a second statement on Oct. 19 acknowledging the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the “inherent human dignity” of members of both the Palestinian and Israeli communities.

Presidents of several top universities have been under pressure from students, alumni and donors to take a stance on Israel’s military operations in Gaza as antisemitism, Islamophobia and anti-Arab hatred have risen around the country. The former presidents of both Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania stepped down in December after controversial testimonies to Congress about the rise in antisemitism on their campuses since Oct. 7.

DeGioia’s letter comes amidst religious celebrations of several traditions and was intended to emphasize understanding and reflection during this holy time.

“For a Georgetown community built on a belief in the mutually reinforcing encounter across faiths, this is a season of hope, of possibilities,” DeGioia wrote. “And it is a moment in which so many in our world are suffering — suffering that is felt deeply, here, in our Georgetown community.”

Angelena Bougiamas
Angelena is a sophomore studying Political Economy from Queens, New York. She is a fan of print newsmagazines (duh), lemon tea (with honey) and humoring her father by finally updating this bio (hi dad!).

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