Georgetown Students Fight Institutional Racism, One Building at a Time

Racism, heartbreakingly and infuriatingly, is not a thing of the past. In light of the appalling recent incidents at the University of Missouri and Yale University, campuses across the nation are joining in solidarity to support students of color throughout the country. Many have shown signs of success at effecting the first steps towards institutional change—with the forced resignation of the president of Mizzou for his failure to address blatant acts of racism making headlines—but there is clearly still work to be done. Today, another university is making headlines for its work towards a safer campus climate for all.
 
Georgetown University has taken a stand against the institution's historical support of slavery by agreeing to rename two buildings titled after former Georgetown presidents who were prominent slaveholders, and whose slave sales helped sustain Georgetown financially, according to the Huffington Post. Mulledy Hall and McSherry Hall (named after Thomas F. Mulledy and William McSherry, respectively) have been temporarily renamed Freedom Hall and Remembrance Hall, thanks to the efforts of The Working Group on Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation on campus. While it would be ignorant to claim that the renaming of buildings is enough to abolish systematic racism, the action is certainly a step forward—one of many for Georgetown University and other American college campuses.
 

 
In addition to the name changes, Georgetown University will be addressing past and present racism on campus through campus-wide conversations. And Georgetown is not alone in their efforts. Other colleges, including Princeton and Yale, have attempted to change building names as well, and colleges across the country are protesting racism on campus.
 
While combating racism is clearly and unfortunately a daunting task, these movements—led and motivated by our fellow collegiettes—should work to inspire all of us on our own campuses. These acts provide guidance on how we, too, can be agents of change against systematic inequality.