Doyle Symposium 2015

It is Not Enough to Refrain from Injustice

The annual Doyle Engaging Difference Symposium brings together constituents from across Georgetown University to engage in dialogue about diversity, difference, and understanding on campus, in our lives, and around the world. Past symposia have included presentations from faculty, alumni, and other guest speakers. This year’s symposium, held on April 10, created a space for six students to share their ideas on how we can transform our campus into a more engaged and more just community.

In the wake of national events and conversations, President DeGioia noted in his December 10, 2014 address to the Georgetown University community that we as a society are wrestling with a “persistent legacy of segregation, discrimination, inequality: of injustice.” He added, quoting Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., that “to be just, it is not enough to refrain from injustice” and subsequently called for the community to “engage in the work of rebuilding the commonweal.”

President DeGioia asked us “to identify concrete projects through which, together, we can build for the common good—projects that will enable us to rebuild trust in one another and to justify belief in the principles on which our American democracy was founded.” For this year’s Doyle Symposium, students took up this challenge and proposed solutions to help address this issue.

Student proposals covered a wide range of topics, but all focused on five unifying themes:

  • Engaging Difference through Co-curricular Opportunities
  • Living Jesuit Values: Engaging Difference through the Lens of Faith and Values
  • Engaging Washington, DC & Connecting Globally
  • Embracing Community: Issues of Diversity and Student Life on Campus
  • Pursuing Excellence: Engaging Difference through the Curriculum

Sophomores Micaela Beltran and Lilyan Tay explored what it would look like to practically apply Georgetown’s Jesuit values in a DC neighborhood. Focusing on building relationships with community, Micaela explained the need for students to participate in community service that goes beyond participatory action. They proposed a program in which selected students and a chaplain live in ‘Hoya House’ and serve the needs of the community. Through this experience, students gain important skills in leadership and community engagement.

The second student who shared remarks was Katherine Potocka, who discussed the benefits of task sharing to alleviate and lessen the stigmatization of mental health issues. This particular subject is of notable importance due to the increasing number of students experiencing mental health issues in the U.S. Katherine explained that task sharing, a peer-to-peer sharing process, is an effective proven method to help support those experiencing mental health issues. Georgetown can take proactive measures to lessen the stigmatization of mental health issues and encouraging a greater acceptance of difference in our community by supporting this approach to mental health treatment.

Following Katherine’s presentation, Davika Panjan spoke about the arts, and its unique ability to encourage acceptance. Specifically, Davika purported the use of disturbance art to shake-up the Georgetown community and renew an appreciation for the arts among peers. Its capacity to remove barriers between people spurs many to use this medium to highlight social injustice. This project introduces multiple defined art space around campus and serves to highlight the diversity, both in culture and creativity, among the Georgetown community.

Winning the Jury Prize this year, Esther Owolabi and Esi Ozemebhoya’s proposal highlights the need for curricular reform to address the absence of required discussion on the topic of diversity and difference. The two seniors discussed the ways in which power and privilege shape participation in today’s world and called on Georgetown faculty to review the current classroom-based dialogue surrounding this issue. Esther and Esi brought to light how this component fulfills Georgetown’s goal of providing students with a holistic education. Furthermore, given the high percentage of students who go on to serve their communities in positions of public life, this component gives Georgetown men and women the theoretical knowledge and practical ability to challenge this cultural discourse in the future.

Two additional proposal were given honorable mention during the Symposium; Anela Malik who researched educational gaps among underrepresented groups, and Spencer Crawford who analyzed how Georgetown engages difference and diversity in community through its Jesuit identity.

An inspiring debate took place after the students presented their projects, reflecting a genuine interest in tackling difference and diversity in our community, and offering practical ways in which we can implement these ideas in the future.

Thank you to all who attended the 2015 Doyle Symposium, and congratulations to the students who presented their projects. With U.S. culture changing so rapidly and the heightened awareness of our country’s legacy of segregation, discrimination, and inequality, it is especially important that Georgetown University offers its students and faculty spaces to dialogue about these important issues.


Return to the Doyle Symposia page.