Georgetown students who organized a sit-in to protest the school’s partnership with Nike have received comparatively harsh punishments, considering. The students belong to the Georgetown Solidarity Committee, an anti-sweatshop student group that objects to Nike’s questionable history of labor abuses. The university’s response went beyond the minimum suggested sanctions in the Code of Student Conduct. Members of GSC are filing an appeal.
Georgetown partners with Nike to produce branded school apparel, making their relationship a business one. It’s not inconceivable, then, that the university handed out harsh punishments to protect that business. Now, to be clear, no one is facing expulsion, but it seems like GSC may have struck a nerve. Non-profit colleges aren’t often treated like corporations, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held accountable for their business practices.
Many of the Trump-era campus protests have focused on injustice outside the schools, letting critics lump university administrations together with demonstrating students. After all, the UC Berkeley protests were definitely not what the institution’s leadership wanted, but it was their federal funding that Trump threatened over Twitter. The Georgetown sit-in, though, proves academia isn’t just an undifferentiated blob of leftism. The sit-in may not have had the national focus of other recent protests, but it’s no less important for it.