The Worst Idea Georgetown’s Ever Had: Property edition
This week’s “Worst Idea” covers two of Georgetown’s silliest property-related decisions: building Lauinger Library as a brutalist interpretation of Healy Hall, and selling WGTB’s radio license. We’ll keep the polls open for your votes until next week, when we’ll move onto the next round.
When visitors cross under Georgetown’s august front gates, they see one of the best prospy-traps in all of U.S. collegedom. The regal form of White-Gravenor, the picturesque front lawn, Copley Hall—DC’s most gratuitously castle-like dormitory—and the soaring Flemish Romanesque-style Healy Hall comprise an unbroken panorama of magnificent pulchritude. But, then there’s Lauinger.
Lauinger Library is ugly. Ugly, ugly, ugly.
Today’s “Worst Idea Georgetown’s Ever Had” isn’t really a contest. Heller is going to recall the egregious actions of a group of conservative blowhards who sold off a free-speech outlet and educational opportunity because they were—well, conservative blowhards. It was a terrible decision, but it didn’t put a hulking, concrete behemoth on campus that visually assaults thousands of students every day.
What’s more, the library’s interior is a wasteland of scarce electrical outlets, occasional WiFi, and battlegrounds for sub-par study spaces. And it’s sucked for a while; the administration promised, then failed, to expand the library in the 2000 Campus Plan. Sure, the inside is also home to some great stuff, such as the terrific archives and historical collections. But most students will never discover or use those resources, therefore students cannot possibly forgive this monstrosity for its miserable state of existence.
Ask any Georgetown student to describe Lauinger in three words, and they’ll probably say “ugly,” “cramped,” and some variation of “industrial-looking.” (Maybe they’ll mention the Soviet Union!) Georgetown has made a lot of wise property-related decisions (e.g. selling GU Hospital), but building Lauinger is not one of them.
Selling WGTB’s radio license for $1
Sorry Molly, but this is all about the money. Forget about how former President Fr. Timothy Healy thought of WGTB as “the great animal that doesn’t belong in the zoo.” Forget about the station’s many FCC violations, its extreme leftist sentiments, and its role as a musical trendsetter in D.C. and beyond. Healy’s decision to sell the WGTB radio license cost Georgetown millions of dollars.
That’s right … millions.
Sure, I could dredge up how Healy’s decision amounted to shutting down a partially student-run group. I could tell you how WGTB had 100,000 at the height of its popularity, or how the station’s listeners were so devoted that WGTB ran one of the region’s most successful pledge drives. But those aren’t the reasons why this is Georgetown’s worst idea ever.
Healy “sold” WGTB’s license to the University of the District of Columbia for $1. UDC sold the same license to C-SPAN for $25 million in 1997.