How Georgetown Day lost the beer garden and inflatables

Today the Hoya reported the unfortunate news that Georgetown Day 2012 will not have a beer garden or any inflatables, such as a bounce house or obstacle course (pictured left). According to the Hoya, Senior Class Committee chair Chris Butterfield (MSB ’12), a leader of the informal planning efforts, and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Jeanne Lord placed the responsibility for the delay in planning on “lack of student interest in the fall semester.” What Butterfield and Lord neglect to mention is that students weren’t given the opportunity to be interested.

In previous years, broadcast emails in the fall semester have invited students to submit applications to be on the Georgetown Day Planning Committee. For example, on November 8, 2010, Georgetown students received the “Weekly Events Email” from the Center for Student Programs, which included the following blurb:

Apply to be on the Georgetown Day 2011 Planning Committee
Sponsored by: The Center for Student Programs
Details: Applications are due Wednesday November 10th at 11:59 p.m.
Want to be Part of a Georgetown Tradition? Apply to be on the leadership team planning Georgetown Day 2011 Check out our website to learn more, and apply online at

No such email was sent last fall. Not until the GUSA Executive’s broadcast email yesterday were students given the opportunity to apply for the Committee. With applications not due until March 24, the planning committee this year will have one month, at most, to plan, compared to five months last year. CSP Director Erika Cohen Derr did not respond to a request to explain why no email was sent out last fall.

While the delay in planning, artfully blamed on students, is an easy excuse for abandoning the beer garden and inflatables, ultimately they were abandoned because they were considered inappropriate for the day. Planning was not the deciding factor.

In an email to Vox yesterday, Associate Vice President Lord explained the real reasons why Georgetown Day is different this year (bolding hers):

The past few years have seen declining participation on the part of student organizations and individual student volunteers in the activities of Georgetown Day. The mission of the day seems also to have lost clarity over this time- what began in 2000 as a celebration of the campus community in all its parts has shifted to being a celebration by the community, or more accurately, by the student community. Based on this trend and on concerns over general health and safety on Georgetown Day, there was limited interest on the part of past planners- both students and administrators- in replicating the full scale of events. Student leaders and administrators have been discussing the concerns raised, and are developing a plan for the last Friday of classes that seeks to both celebrate appropriately the end of the academic year and address concerns about the scope and purpose of the day.

The reason Georgetown Day 2012 will be a fundamentally different experience is because of two things: the event’s shift from “a celebration of the campus community” to “a celebration by…the student community” and “concerns over general health and safety.” In other words, because it turned into a party for undergraduates.

The effect of the changes on town-gown relations remain to be seen, especially considering that the Campus Plan is still pending. The D.C. Zoning Commission decides on April 30, three days after Georgetown Day, whether to hold another hearing on the plan before issuing a ruling. One has to wonder if students’ actions this year could affect if there even is a Georgetown Day next year. Regardless of the Campus Plan, the last Friday of classes this spring will be very different from those in years past. Perhaps we’re lucky to have a Georgetown Day at all.

42 Comments on “How Georgetown Day lost the beer garden and inflatables

  1. A message to the Class of 2012:

    Even though large tracts of Copley Lawn and many old and famous Georgetown Day traditions have fallen or may fall into the grip of Jeanne Lord, Erika Cohen Derr, and all the odious apparatus of the Center for Student Programs, we shall not flag or fail. We shall drink on to the end.

    We shall drink in France, we shall drink on the seas and oceans, we shall drink with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall drink on our sacred Georgetown Day, whatever the cost may be. We shall drink on the beaches, we shall drink on the landing grounds, we shall drink in the fields and in the streets, we shall drink in the hills; we shall never sober up, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this senior class or a large part of it were subjugated and sober on Georgetown Day, then our underclassmen allies, armed and guarded by the Spirit of Georgetown, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the whole student body of Georgetown University, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of Georgetown Day.

  2. Between the lack of basketball attendance and this, you guys really seem to hate fun.

  3. The Voice uncovered the real story here.

    The Hoya just let the administration blame students without holding them accountable, when really the administration tried to run out the clock on planning for the day in the hopes that it wouldn’t happen.

    The Hoya can continue sucking up to the administration in their quest for independence; I’ll take the real journalism at the Voice any day.


  5. I don’t think Jeanne Lord and the other administrators get it. It is students’ tuition that pays their salaries, subsidizes professors to do research, etc. If the Faculty/Staff want a bring your kids to work day, host that. If they want to take their kids to a carnival, do that. Fine. Georgetown Day is a celebration OF the campus community, and the undergrad students are the heart of the community. I’m an alumnus so I can feel slightly less conflicted about making that remark.

    It’s also very pathetic that the University can’t admit the reasons for doing this, but instead blames it on the students.

  6. The Voice did a great job of saying that the Hoya reported it, though they forgot to mention this line:

    “While some aspects of the day are set to change, the students involved in its organization hope to maintain the legacy of the event, which was originally started by students in 2000 to commemorate the death of an undergraduate in an alcohol-related altercation.”

    As someone involved in this planning back then, I’m appalled at what this has become.

  7. And so this is how the fun at georgetown finally dies. lost forever in the endless abyss of planning commissions, shrouded in and suffocated under a blanket of “clarity” about what is the true meaning of an event few would classify as anything other than a celebration OF Georgetown.

    How will I celebrate Georgetown day now? I will treat it as a wake for all that I once loved about our shared scared holiday.

    And as with any wake, I shall celebrate its memory… by drinking.

  8. I appreciate your position. That said, events evolve. Do you recall the block party and how the administration killed that? Georgetown Day is its spiritual successor.

  9. Eomer! Take your Èored down the left flank! Gamling, follow the King’s banner to Healy Hall! Grimbold, take your company right, after you pass the Main Gate! Forth, and fear no darkness! Arise! Arise, Riders of Georgetown! Mugs shall be shaken, Solo Cups shall be splintered! A beer day… a drunk day… ere the sun rises!

    Drink now! Drink now! Drink to ruin and Georgetown Day’s ending!

    Forth Eorlingas!!!!

  10. uh, guys, you’re going to be having stuff on the lawn anyways regardless of whether there is a beer garden. Additionally, regardless of planning time frame how many students can swear 100% that they will be sober on Georgetown day and in control of their faculties enough to be a point person day of? The last email notifying students of the true reason why Georgetown Day started was sent in the spring of 2010, meaning this graduating class are technically the only hoyas aware of it. Don’t punish people for ignoring a tradition they never knew about in the first place.

  11. This is even more incentive to get shitfaced before getting to Georgetown Day! That will show them!

  12. A few things to keep in mind:
    -this article highlights only parts of Georgetown Day that have been pared, not parts that will remain.
    -are you really trying to say that the amount of drinking on the front lawn would have been significantly affected by a beer garden or inflatables?
    -how many students will swear that will be 100% sober and will willfully volunteer to be point people day of. because hundreds will offer to plan it, but from a planning perspective they need to be accountable day of as well.
    -the email regarding the roots of the Georgetown Day tradition was last sent in spring 2010. this means that the classes of 2013, 2014, and 2015 technically were not aware of the tradition before it was mentioned in this article.
    -if the students on the planning committee had not volunteered to plan Georgetown Day 2012, it would not have happened. it is hardly fair to expect these activities to fall out of the sky. you owe them a big thank you.
    -as students at Georgetown University, a campus of higher education institutions that is on a global map, are hoyas going to be so immature as to turn the front lawn into a zoo just to be able to give the finger to the administration for a hours? REALLY? seth myers with weekend update called and he wants to use a photo as part of the ‘really’ segment on SNL.

    Hoya Saxa

  13. “No such email was sent last fall.”

    I would like to see the proof of this. I mean, we’re just sort of assuming that this is true, right? Did someone look through all of the Weekly Events emails?

  14. You’re just as capable of anyone else of confirming or denying this. I promise, though, you won’t find one.

  15. because the inflatables on the lawn was always the biggest part of georgetown day…this will change nothing

  16. $55K went a hell of a lot farther back in my day… the real story isn’t that the Hoya or Voice did something, it’s that people knew this was in the works for a while. I don’t work for either paper and I have friends (both on and off papers) who had heard this was coming along as far back as a few months ago. Where the hell were the articles then? Something might have actually been able to be done. Instead, we now have the administration saying “SEE, WE TRIED!” the senior class committee trying not to come across like complete self-righteous jackasses (and failing).
    I hear the last time the administration tried to fuck with Georgetown day they wanted to move it back in Spring 2009 to not coincide with GAAP weekend. There was a huge backlash (via facebook, apparently… but still) and the administration was basically forced to move it back. They learned, and aren’t giving the students much of a chance to organize anything.

    And, worst comes to worst I’ll still be hammered anyways. And I’m betting most people who want to be will figure out a way.

  17. That last paragraph may be the most important. Any bad press for Georgetown going into the Campus Plan final decision could cause substantial long-term financial difficulty for Georgetown. For instance, the Zoning Commission could choose to require the University to build TWO new dorms BEFORE it can build a new athletic facility, which is desperately needed for a number of reasons (this is what Plan opponents want to require of the University). Georgetown Day has the ability to become a lightning rod for neighbors’ complaints, and the administration may be trying to play it quiet this year.

    It feels like Georgetown Day 2012 may be getting sacrificed for the greater Georgetown good. I don’t think the implications on the Zoning Commission’s decision 3 days following GD can be understated. The administration needs this thing to get approved in their favor, point blank.

    But yeah, that really sucks. Georgetown Day is my favorite holiday.

  18. @Vox Patriciorum if you must know, the senior class committee officers are not the only members of the committee. the student on point for the planning is an underclassmen who stepped up and put their name on the line so that Georgetown Day could have (if they hadn’t, it wouldn’t have happened at all). second, the senior class committee officers are knee-deep in second semester of their senior year, meaning they are full on planning the senior gala, class auction, graduation events, and reunion events. so yes, Georgetown Day is not their only priority.

  19. Let’s make Georgetown Day about alcohol this year.

  20. I, for one, want to applaud the administration and involved students for their efforts to rework Georgetown Day and address health and safety concerns. As a sober student observing Georgetown Day the past two years, “shameful” is the best word to describe what the day has become. Things in our community have gone seriously awry when, at an official event, intoxicated students from time to time sink to the ground, are not really alert, and worst of all, few around them seem to notice or be concerned. Let us all think back to the banners that grace this campus at the start of each year. How does Georgetown Day, a day that should bring out the best in all of us, exemplify Academic Excellence? How does it exemplify Cura Personalis? How does it exemplify being Women and Men for Others? Of course, I do not know what this year’s Georgetown Day will hold. Perhaps nothing will fundamentally change. But it is my fervent hope that students will think long and hard (recall Contemplation in Action) about the person they choose to be on Georgetown Day and what that says about themselves, their fellow students, and the entire community.

  21. Wait, so you don’t drink? I don’t follow…

  22. @@Eric Mooring

    Of course not. It must be hard to consume much of anything when your head is that far up your own ass.

  23. Work hard, play hard. I would say stop by another college and see the environment there first, and then report back. We all can enjoy ourselves in that nature a few times a year while we still have the chance.

  24. Parties aren’t supposed to exemplify Academic Excellence.

  25. We are ignoring the fact that there’s a town meeting a couple days after Georgetown Day. Stuck-up Georgetown residents frown upon Georgetown Day and to would undoubtedly use the day’s festivities to fuel their arguments. The administrators are purposely trying to prevent this from happening. I SAY FUCK ‘EM ALL!

  26. Pingback: The Morning Metropolitan | The Georgetown Metropolitan

  27. Georgetown day once again rears its ugly head. Honestly, there is not a day I feel less part of the Georgetown community than Georgetown day. I know there are plenty of students who feel disconnected from and even embarrassed for, their school on Georgetown day. Please guys, lets keep our Sh*t together just a little this year.

    Also, honest question. How many people are happy with how drunk they get on Georgetown day? Is it more of an expectation or a right of passage? Or in your heart of hearts is it like, “man it was so fun being that drunk all day?” I am not trying to be prick.

    But yes, I am a nerd and kind of a stiff. I know, its ok.

  28. I’m a little confused why “celebration by the community” is inherently bad, but anyway…

    If Georgetown Day is really about this kid that got killed on the Lau sidewalk (by another student), why haven’t the admins ever publicized events surrounding that anniversary? Nothing would be more of a buzz-kill then a lawn-side tribute to the deceased. I’m guessing they’re even lazier than they are puritanical.

    Anyway, isn’t the beer garden more of a grad student/professor thing?

  29. @Fareed

    Here, here. It’s foolish to call back to Georgetown Day’s origin if, you know, those reasons are rarely discussed. But then again, we’re talking about the same people who:

    1) Tried to force the dead student’s parents to sign a confidentiality agreement. []

    2) “Punished” that student’s killer, another Georgetown student, by assigning him a 10-page reflection paper and a suspension that never took place. []

    So, that’s something to keep in mind when Lord, et. al. grouse about Georgetown Day’s original “mission”.

  30. The part of the lawn where the beer garden was held last year is actually a strategically chosen spot as the surrounding bushes, trees, wall, and other flora provide excellent cover – make of that what you will.

    Also I think every year people try to drink more or party harder to make up for the various indignities the student body suffers over Georgetown Day or other alcohol-related traditions, but I agree with many comments here that this year actually a lot more is at stake (i.e. Georgetown’s future) in terms of the campus plan.

    The best move would actually be for all non-seniors to retreat into a milder, gentler Georgetown Day for a year…and give ’em hell next year when their guard is down.

    “Last year we had a surprisingly quiet Georgetown Day, so this year-” “OH MY GOD IS THAT A ZEPPELIN WITH HENRY SIM’S FACE ON IT”

  31. sounds about right! Sneaky, sneaky administration…

  32. Honestly, THIS DOESN’T MEAN I’M NOT GONNA BE DRUNK. This is the first year I would’ve been able to legally partake in the beer garden, so that sucks, but it’s not gonna stop me…and it sure as hell will not stop underclassmen who want to be drunk. To all of you who think the behavior on Georgetown Day is an embarrassment to the school, guess what: LEARN HOW TO HAVE FUN. Yes, this doesn’t mean drinking for everyone (whatever to each his own), but since freshman year I’ve been under the impression that Georgetown Day is FOR the students…For paying $50,000+ a year to go to a school that hardly gives back to them. To celebrate the community i.e. the students. While the fact that the administration could give two shits about their current students makes me sad, I’m not going to let this rain on my parade.

  33. I love how being an alumni magically puts one in the position to be “ashamed” or “embarrassed” by the activities of students.

  34. Anyone who thinks that any changes to Georgetown Day don’t have everything to do with the neighborhood issues is fooling himself.

    I guess this just means I’ll have to go back to putting booze in a Gatorade bottle…

  35. “How does it exemplify Cura Personalis? How does it exemplify being Women and Men for Others?”

    Well, I am woman for others when I share my alcoholic beverages with them. I am a woman for others when I hold my friends up to do a keg stand. I am a woman for others when I help ’em out when they’ve had one too many. And trust me, I definitely take care of my “whole person” on Georgetown Day.

  36. While helping people out “when they’ve had one too many” can be meritorious in a sense (depending, of course, on the nature of the “help” that is offered) , let me pose this question: Wouldn’t an even better way to be a woman or man for others be to exhort your friends and peers to not have so much to drink that they end up needing help for having “had one too many”? Let’s be proactive, folks.

    Also, I hope that the line about keg stands is tongue-in-cheek. If the purpose of a keg stand is to consume large amounts of alcohol quickly, then it is obviously a binge-drinking related behavior. It is ridiculous to think that facilitating binge drinking could seriously be argued to be a genuine way to be a woman or man for others.

  37. I support @georgetown day forever. Everyone knows a no-pants party is the best party.

  38. No, I was being completely serious when I wrote that I believe helping someone do a keg stand exemplifies the Jesuit value “men and women for others.”

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