Reflecting on last Monday, the day that has been nationally set aside as a dedication to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his dream, evoked mixed feelings. On one hand, it was a beautiful sight to see hundreds of students come together and go into the community to make a positive change. These students were united under the banner of “selfless action” to accomplish one goal: helping another community (Benning Terrace, a public housing community in Southeast D.C. Students contributed to the city’s revitalization effort there). Though this is a noble cause, it brings an important question to mind – what about our own community?
What is GW’s role in advancing Dr. King’s dream, and ultimately making it a reality? The nation has done a very good job at superficially fixing the problems that ailed our nation before the ’60s – but the ailments that must be healed are more than skin deep. These problems range from economic disparities to a lack of knowledge of another race. We see these issues daily on the news stations, in our school system and sometimes in our own homes. Though these are issues on a national scale, each directly or indirectly affects us as students. We each come from many different walks of life, economic backgrounds and general experiences. There are students who come from impoverished upbringings and others from wealthy ones. There are students who have come from a small homogeneous town and others who have already experienced a wide range of cultural perspectives and ethnic relationships.
Regardless of previous circumstances, we each have something to contribute to this campus and to other people’s college experience. However, it is necessary for students to have proper outlets and avenues to affect our community.
Yes, students have had the opportunity to hold various cultural events or express themselves through the activities of their student organizations. But how often are these events attended by those outside our comfort zone. How often is there an event that brings the Indian Student Association, Jewish Student Association, Iranian Student Association, Asian Student Association and Black Student Union together? Furthermore, an event composed of the Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Association and the Multicultural Greek Council has yet to be a consistent part of campus life. Each of these groups has held individual events that have promoted awareness but has not had the opportunity to work as a collective body and help facilitate positive change on this campus.
Once this sense of collectivity and interdependence is experienced within the various cultural communities, this spirit will extend to the entire GW community. The atmosphere of the campus could be one of unity with this progress, and a sense of belonging and school spirit would naturally follow. GW students deserve to receive their full college experience, not just pieces of it. Problems have to stop being solved superficially. It is now that we as students must decide whether we are going to take the next step toward a greater equality and a greater understanding of one another. Isn’t it time we make Dr. King’s dream a reality?
-The writer, a junior majoring in psychology, is a candidate for Student Association president.