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Members Of Georgetown Minority Mentorship Program Resign, Claiming Racism

Members Of Georgetown Minority Mentorship Program Resign, Claiming Racism

 



At Georgetown University, a decades-long program that was supposed to help students of color has been accused of racism.

The College Fix reported that every current member of Georgetown’s Patrick Healy Fellowship program resigned recently, claiming the program was rife with “racism, queerphobia, sexism, classism.” The resignations occurred in early November, with those leaving the program writing a resignation letter posted to Instagram that alleged numerous grievances, beginning with the claim that senior fellows’ concerns were “repeatedly dismissed or met with false claims to change the organization.” The fellows also alleged that “Junior fellows were made to question the power and importance of their activism, and felt that they had to downplay their various experiences whether that be as an international student, Black woman, low-income student, survivor, etc.”The fellows made five demands:

  • Removal of a board member who has shared racist and/or classist comments on multiple occasions around undergraduate fellows

  • Removal of certain fellows given allegations of sexual assault and lack of contribution to the fellowship

  • Removal of the minimum GPA requirement for prospective applicants

  • Creation of transparency measures between the fellows and Board

  • & more

As to the GPA requirement, junior Rimpal Bajwa told Georgetown’s campus newspaper The Hoya that such a requirement was classist and elitist, as it prioritized academic achievement over activism.

“Which just plays into this whole entire notion of respectability politics that says that you should be striving for academic excellence while completely neglecting this activism work, which is equally as important,” Bajwa told the Hoya. “Hearing that she wanted to value academics more than the work that we’re doing and mitigating the stuff that we’re doing on campus was really hurtful because we place great value on the work that we do, and we think that it’s really important work.”

Bajwa also claimed to the paper that one of the Board’s few white members described a black applicant as “aggressive,” which brought to mind stereotypes.

“Hearing that language of an angry Black woman, that’s such a stereotype, and it’s such a trope that’s been used to mitigate the voices of Black women,” Bajwa told the outlet. “It was definitely a very racist and sexist thing to say to a Black woman.”

Briana Thomas, another fellow who resigned, told the Hoya that she and others wanted the program to move beyond simply networking.

“Everyone who came before us never really advocated for a change at the level we are currently doing because the fellowship breeds that professional networking and contacts are more important than moral integrity and actually supporting the voices of students of color,” she told the outlet.

As the Fix reported, the fellowship program was founded in 1997 and falls under Georgetown’s Center for Multicultural Equity & Access. The fellowship program is “a community of dynamic leaders who share a passion for addressing issues that affect communities of color through a commitment to service, professional development, and alumni mentorship,” the fellowship’s website says.


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