Senior Class Committee chair fires back at Georgetown Day critics

In a lengthy email to the senior class late last night, Senior Class Committee chair Chris Butterfield (MSB ’12) defended the controversial decisions of the Georgetown Day planning committee. Butterfield placed the responsibility for the scaled-back nature of the event on Georgetown students and our behavior. The full email is available after the jump.

In the email, Butterfield suggested that the expansion of the security barricades from just surrounding the beer garden to enclosing the entirety of Copley Lawn is an acceptable response to inappropriate behavior by a few students in the past.

Butterfield simultaneously rejected and employed, in the space of a few words, the logic that the actions of a few represent the entire Georgetown undergraduate community:

Often it is these students whose behavior neighbors showcase and hold up as representative of “the whole”. And that is simply not true; we are better than that. Last year at GU Day, a Port-O-John was pushed over, a security officer was punched, and people were throwing full beer cans at others at an on-campus party. As a student community, we have to address these incidents; they are a part of our behavior we have to own.

While scolding Georgetown students, Butterfield also said the decision to forgo the beer garden was supposedly made out of a sense of community. “We entertained the idea of having a beer garden, however seniors agreed that seemed to work more against the idea of community than toward it, segregating those who were 21 from those who weren’t,” Butterfield said. Earlier this semester, the administration claimed that the beer garden and inflatables were taken away because students hadn’t become involved in the planning process sooner.

The changes made to Georgetown Day will divide the student body much more than the beer garden supposedly did last year, for it will push the celebrations back into dorm rooms and off-campus townhouses. If Hoyas are celebrating Georgetown Day together anywhere, it will be on Leavey Esplanade, not Copley Lawn.

According to Butterfield, the only difference between the barriers that surrounded the beer garden last year, there to enforce DC law, and those that will cordon off all of Copley Lawn tomorrow, is their purpose. Butterfield said to the Hoya: “All things that were present last year are still here, just for a different purpose.”

If DPS repurposed their cars as crowd control tools, that would also be cause for concern. There are legitimate and illegitimate purposes for everything. It matters how things are used.

Butterfield’s full email after the jump…

To the Class of 2012:

This note isn’t going to hit all of you. For those of you it doesn’t, I hope you receive it somehow. But for those of you who are reading this, I ask you take a minute to consider a point of view.

Some of you know me, some of you know of me, and some of you don’t know me at all. For those who don’t I’m Chris – I’ve chaired the Senior Class Committee this year for our class, the Class of 2012. All year, it’s been my job to get to know you, to plan events for you, to stand up for you and your rights, but most importantly to help you make the most of our last year at Georgetown together. With limited time and limited resources, our team works hard to put on and coordinate so many of the opportunities that you see as Seniors, from Dis-O to Senior Parents Weekend, to the up and coming Senior Week. As one of the strongest advocates for Seniors and the Senior experience, I cannot emphasize enough how disheartening it was for me when I learned that Georgetown Day wasn’t being planned. Disheartening might not even be a strong enough word.

After sincerely requesting university administrators to discuss the issue, a group of students (mostly seniors) met to discuss Georgetown Day and its concerns. And Georgetown Day does raise some difficult concerns. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many incredible classmates this year, which has been hands down the most rewarding part of my job. Fortunately, I see in most of our classmates an outpouring of constructive energy, and a willingness to step up and take on responsibility in any situation. Another difficult reality, however, has been having to confront students who have been disruptive and unaccountable for their actions. Often it is these students whose behavior neighbors showcase and hold up as representative of “the whole”. And that is simply not true; we are better than that. Last year at GU Day, a Port-O-John was pushed over, a security officer was punched, and people were throwing full beer cans at others at an on-campus party. As a student community, we have to address these incidents; they are a part of our behavior we have to own.

Which didn’t leave the seniors a part of envisioning Georgetown Day 2012 in a strong position to plan something; yet we were committed to making it happen. We do, as seniors, have a sense of community with each other, a sense of passion and conviction in what we do, that hadn’t fully developed in us as incoming freshmen. Our student community has so much to celebrate and value in an end of the year celebration, which is what I think makes Georgetown Day special. In my opinion, where the misunderstanding comes in is with the word community. What does it mean to celebrate as a community? Everyone has their own idea of what celebrating means, and I’d be the first to say I respect that. Many envision celebrating as drinking to their hearts content. That’s perfectly fine; drink! Others don’t, however; they envision relaxing with their friends and reminiscing outside. Others envision eating food and playing lawn games. Others envision listening to music and singing along to familiar tunes. Whatever it might be, I feel the emphasis should be that we’re all together on that day. To spend time with those friends who will likely play defining roles in the rest of our lives. It doesn’t seem fair, in my opinion, that the day is spent at the expense of others; putting their safety in jeopardy, breaking local laws, or endangering innocent bystanders.

Ideally, we’d be able to all drink on the front lawn together; include all types of celebrating in the celebration. Unfortunately DC law prohibits that. We entertained the idea of having a beer garden, however seniors agreed that seemed to work more against the idea of community than toward it, segregating those who were 21 from those who weren’t. So we worked hard to raise money and plan as much as possible as we could on Healy and Copley Lawns for the celebration. From food trucks to bands to a dunk tank, there are going to be some awesome activities for people to enjoy. And for those of you who love drinking, I hear Dixie is running specials to stock your fridge at home.

Some have argued that we have a right to celebrate in whatever way we want; and I think this argument has merit. As someone who has spent hundreds of hours in GU Day discussions, however, I just think it detracts from our sense of community when the safety of others is jeopardized in the celebration, as it has been in the past. Having worked closely with many members of the administration for four years now, I can certainly guarantee you they are not against fun. I’ve worked with them and assisted the rest of the committee in planning 8 straight days of what I hope to be your most memorable days on the hilltop. And, I might add, all 8 feature drinking events. While everyone has shortcomings and placing blame can be tempting, I think it’s more constructive to focus on what we can control: ourselves. This is first and foremost a student celebration, and we should be proud to say that it is.

So please get excited for Friday. Celebrate in the ways you love to most with the people you love most. Come out to the lawn and (without breaking the law), enjoy everything we’ve worked hard to organize over the past month. I can promise you we did the best we could, with the resources we had, and the time we had left. And I’m willing to work with you on anywhere you think we fell short – just shoot me an e-mail.

But now it’s in yours… take it, enjoy it, and sport your Hoya pride to the underclassmen!

Hoya Saxa,
Chris

2 Comments on “Senior Class Committee chair fires back at Georgetown Day critics

  1. Having everyone drink at home will really detract from community now.
    Also, having Todd Olson threaten people in Village A and B not to have parties before 5 or else face disciplinary action is the DUMBEST policy ever, especially since there’s no beer garden and will be searches on the lawn. I already feel cheated out of Georgetown Day and it hasn’t already started. Worst SCC president ever.

  2. What’s sad is that this graduating class never really experienced the true Georgetown community to begin with. Starting with the new alcohol policies in the Fall of 07, things really started to go down hill. The Georgetown Day in Spring 08 was one of the last true ones, with events so unspeakably awesome that I fear extradition from my current country of residence for even hinting at their occurrence.

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