A Georgetown University student who said she experienced a hate crime on campus held a sit-in with classmates on Saturday.
LaHannah Giles was among a group of friends sitting outside of Healey Family Student Center in April when she said a white student began yelling racial slurs from a window of one of the residence halls.
She said the student went on a hateful tirade targeting Black people and yelled that they "all needed to die." Giles filed a complaint with campus police and provided cellphone video hoping it would help in an investigation.
However, Giles began feeling that the incident was not being taken seriously enough after she said campus police lost security footage needed to identify the student. Shortly after, a coalition of students and student groups began holding sit-ins and rallies to raise awareness about what happened.
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At Saturday’s sit-in, students met under blue campus banners that read “community in diversity.” Students held signs that read, “Georgetown protects racists" and "We stand together."
“We’re all Hoyas here, we're all deserving of justice and inclusivity, and really I think the pathway to that, was paved by LaHannah,” Hindu Student Association member Ishan Datey said.
Other students said what happened to Giles wasn’t an isolated incident and have experienced it themselves.
“A university where Jewish students are tormented with swastikas and conspiracies, where Muslim students, Hindu students, Sikh students, East Asian students, are constantly profiled,” a student said.
Giles said she is surprised her peers came to support her, but not surprised that the incident happened.
“If I’m being completely honest, I was surprised people came out to the sit-in. I was surprised that people cared about what happened to me,” Giles said.
Now, about six months after the incident, the students at the sit-in said they are starting to see progress from the university.
“Just this past week, they moved what happened to me from a bias-related incident to a hate crime, and that’s because of pressure from you all,” Giles said.
In an email sent to the university community, Georgetown acknowledged how they fell short in responding to the incident and are committing to enhancing the bias reporting system.
“Georgetown is committed to being an inclusive campus that welcomes people of all faiths, races, ethnicities, sexualities, gender identities, abilities and backgrounds,” a Georgetown University spokesperson said. “We do not tolerate discrimination or harassment in violation of university policies.”
Enhancing the school’s bias reporting system is one of Giles and her supporters' demands. Another calls for the expulsion of the student responsible, though he has denied being involved.
Correction (Dec. 11, 2022 at 4:29 p.m.): This article has been updated to reflect that Giles said the university lost security footage of the incident needed to identify the student, not video she provided.