Georgetown University has been getting loads of bad press lately.
First came news that a politically-connected student had instigated a homophobic attack, an assault the school attempted to cover-up. Then we heard about how school cops pulled the plug on a gay rights rally. As if that weren’t bad enough, the university took five days to report yet another hate crime.
Shameful, yes, but certainly not surprising, says one staffer.
After the jump, read what “Thomas MacMillan” has to say, including allegations that Georgetown officials regularly, needlessly investigate gay staff members. Why the quotes around “Thomas MacMillan”? Because the staffer’s afraid to reveal his identity lest the Catholic school come down on him.
Georgetown has been going through some rough times recently when it comes to homophobia. Then again, perhaps itâ€™s time that the university faces a problem that very likely has been lurking under the surface for quite some time.
I am on staff and I have seen other gay staff members investigated for â€œlapses in job performanceâ€ when in truth their primary offense was their sexual orientation. Two past students have informed me that my own sexual orientation was the subject of a class discussion. When I complained to affirmative action and to human resources, I found that the primary motivation of these two departments was to protect the university from any legal liability. Because the students would not come forward publicly, I had no recourse, and I ultimately decided to drop the issue.
My own circumstance made me angry, but more recent occurrences have infuriated me. Two anti-gay hate crimes have been perpetrated against Georgetown students within the space of about a month. Hate crimes are committed to terrorize entire communities. For GU Pride to remain silent or to have come out with a weak response would have been pathetic at best. Instead, they have chosen to be bold and to make a statement. The universityâ€™s response so far has been equally bold. When the students tried to deliver a petition to the president, they were met with a large police force barring their entrance into a building on their own campus. Even the offer of having two people deliver the petition was denied.
But I wouldnâ€™t blame it on the schoolâ€™s Catholic heritage. One might find it odd that the person from whom I received the most support in my own case was the university chaplain. He pointed to the signs around campus that say â€œFaith and Justiceâ€ as well as â€œCare for the Whole Personâ€. He stated unequivocally that it would be false advertising if the university did not uphold these ideals. My meetings with other university officials tended to revolve around whether or not regulations had technically been broken and what the burden of proof would be if they had been broken.
Sadly, I think the university administration is fumbling on this one. The first hate crime was covered up for two weeks. With the second hate crime, the university improved by waiting only five days to disclose the event. What explanation could there be? Personally I can imagine an army of university lawyers sitting in meetings with university administration trying desperately hard to figure out how they can best slide this issue back under the rug. Two hate crimes makes this a difficult task indeed. I certainly donâ€™t want to see a third homophobic attack. Rather, I want the university to face up to the fact that it has a problem with institutionalized homophobia and put an end to this mess right now.